Journal of Archaeological Research

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 1-39

First online:

New Perspectives in Mississippian Archaeology

  • John H. BlitzAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Alabama Email author 

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In recent years the pace of research on the late prehistoric Mississippian societies of eastern North America has accelerated. New data, methods, and theoretical goals are changing perspectives in Mississippian archaeology. Regional overviews and site syntheses provide unprecedented insights into the Mississippian phenomenon at local, regional, and continental scales. Traditional culture history, processualism, historical processualism, iconography, and neo-Darwinian archaeology are active theoretical orientations. Important research focuses on variability in Mississippian sociopolitical formations over time, organizational diversity among contemporaneous societies, and sources of political power. The new historicism and iconography place agency, identity, origins, factionalism, ideology, and meaning at the center of culture change, while many processualists continue to focus on developmental histories, economy, and control of material resources. Advances in physical and chemical analyses and the availability of remote sensing techniques are changing how Mississippian archaeology is conducted and expanding the kinds of data that are recovered. These diverse interests, methods, and goals have created considerable eclecticism in Mississippian archaeology.


Archaeology North America Prehistoric Mississippian