Measures of Inequality in the Mississippian Heartland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Cahokia, the earliest and largest Mississippian (A.D. 1050–1400) mound complex, is situated in the American Bottom of Illinois. It is widely considered to be the center of a regionally integrated polity complete with subsidiary centers, specialized settlements, and rural farmsteads. Investigations at Cahokia proper and in the surrounding countryside over the past 50 years have provided a wealth of data concerning settlement layout, structure size, and shape, and the differential distribution of material remains. In this paper, I calculate Gini indices for Cahokia and outlying settlements based on data reported in recent analyses of extensive excavations at Cahokia (e.g., Pauketat 1998, 2013) and the wide range of sites included in the FAI–270 project (see Porter and Bareis 1984). The indices are compared both within sites and between sites for the various Mississippian phases to investigate inequality as indicated by differences in structure size. I then situate these new measures of inequality within the body of data already available for the Mississippian period in the American Bottom in order to further assess the degree of centralization and inequality.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAbstracts of the SAA 81st Annual Meeting
StatePublished - 2016


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