Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Welch, Paul


The Mississippian period in the American Bottom experienced a rapid influx of people during a period of culture change after AD 1050. During this time, people moved into the area, political, religious, and economic ways of life became drastically different from those who inhabited the region only a generation before. An estimated 30 percent of the population came from areas outside of the American Bottom. From 2008-2012, a large archaeological project at the East St. Louis Precinct of the American Bottom resulted in the uncovering of many ceramic vessels, however only three percent of these were identified as nonlocal during analysis. The purpose of this study is to determine if these nonlocal pots are made with clays similar to the local samples from the site in order to better understand the process of migration and importance of exotic goods in the region. This project uses X-ray fluorescence to analyze the elemental makeup of the ceramics to test if they were produced locally, with similar clays to local samples, or if they were likely imported into the area from their sources. The results concluded that most of the nonlocal samples tested were geochemically similar to the locally produced vessels. There are several vessels that appear geochemically different from the local samples.




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