Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Welch, Paul


This research aims to understand whether and how ritual manifests in ceramic objects dating to the Late Mississippian Period (ca. late 1200s A.D. to A.D. 1500) in southern Illinois. The study focuses on ritual phenomena that occurred at two village sites: Millstone Bluff (11Pp3) and Dillow’s Ridge (11U635). Millstone Bluff has been interpreted as a site of public ritual and unusual symbolic importance evidenced by its general location and topography, spatial organization, and distinctive rock art. Though Dillow’s Ridge was the locale for an inordinate level of lithic tool production, in other ways the site is understood to be typical of Mississippian villages for this region and time and unlikely to have accommodated large-scale public ritual activity. Through the analysis and comparison of ceramics from each site, this research seeks to identify the ceramic correlates of public ritual activity for this region and time. Statistical results suggest very little differentiation between the ceramic assemblages, suggesting the ritual activities that took place at either site may not have been substantially different from one another. Alternatively, the lack of differentiation may indicate ceramics do not play an active role in large-scale public ritual activity in this context.




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