The Central Role of Plants in Mississippian Feasting and Public Ritual

Katie Parker, Kristin M. Hedman

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


The Cahokia mound complex, North America's only prehistoric metropolis, has long been acknowledged as the focal point of Mississippian social, political, and religious power, and of ritual power displays in the American Bottom. Research at a number of outlying Lohmann/ Stirling phase sites (AD 1050-1150, has shown evi-dence for politico-religious rituals using a set of specialty materials within distinc-tive non-domestic buildings. The buildings and the materials are visible "artifacts of power" (Emerson 1997), and archaeological evidence for Cahokia-centered internal organization. Certain sacred or symbolic plants associated with purification, renew-al, healing, social mediation/integration, and contact with the supernatural, were active elements in ritual practices, and therefore are counted among "artifacts of power". Carbonized macrobotanical remains from unique Mississippian structures and associated pit features include a set of specialty items, some with psychoactive or purifying medicinal properties.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMAC 2014
StatePublished - 2014


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