Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
This dissertation examines the archaeology of Parchman Place (22CO511), a late Mississippi period (A.D. 1300-1550) Native American site in the northern Yazoo Basin, Coahoma County, Mississippi. Data from near-surface geophysical survey and excavation in mound and residential contexts undertaken from 2002-2011 provide evidence for the site’s history of occupation as well as community building practices that took place there throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. An analysis of pottery recovered from Parchman resulted in a refinement of the phase chronology for the northern Yazoo Basin. Based on frequencies of types, attributes, and vessel shape, two ceramic sub-phases were identified, including a previously undefined middle Mississippian component. Additionally, two distinct vessel assemblages were identified for Parchman: a domestic assemblage used for cooking, serving, and storage; and a serving assemblage associated with large-scale community-wide feasting events. Excavation and detailed analysis of mound stratigraphy at Parchman revealed a number of distinct mound building practices. These include founding events, mantle construction, building and dismantling of summit structures, veneering, truncation, and incorporation. These practices indicate that mound building was a salient way of negotiating community values surrounding elite status, leadership, and the Mississippian cosmos. Targeted excavations of magnetic gradiometer anomalies confirmed the presence of multiple burned Mississippian structures on mound summits and in residential areas. Spatial analysis of geophysical features in residential areas indicates that most neighborhoods were arranged in courtyard groups around a central plaza. Conversely, one residential area was anomalous in that it was spatially segregated from the plaza and the houses within it were arranged in rows on either side of a path or corridor oriented toward the site’s largest platform mound. These results indicate that ideas related to community solidarity and social differentiation were encoded in spatial practice at Parchman. The final chapter offers a reconstruction of the occupational history of Parchman, beginning with the founding of the community in the early 14th century and continuing through its abandonment in the late 15th or early 16th century.