From bitter seeds: a historical anthropological approach to Moundville's origins

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dc.contributor Weaver, Lesley Jo
dc.contributor Scarry, C. Margaret
dc.contributor Dressler, William W.
dc.contributor.advisor Knight, Vernon J.
dc.contributor.advisor Brown, Ian W. Briggs, Rachel Virginia 2018-01-19T19:37:54Z 2018-01-19T19:37:54Z 2017
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0002745
dc.identifier.other Briggs_alatus_0004D_13158
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract Archaeologists have long been aware of the synergistic relationship between maize (or corn) and the development of Mississippian societies (A.D. 1000) within the Southeastern United States. It seems that decades after maize appeared within a given region, Mississippian societies formed, characterized by social stratification, the construction of large earthworks, and a reliance on maize agriculture. For many of these societies, maize even reached the status of a true dietary staple, providing over 40 percent of the daily caloric intake. Researchers have traditionally modeled this phenomenon within a political-economic lens, arguing that maize was an essential resource manipulated by aspiring individuals seeking to attract followers and amass political capital. However, studies indicate that maize, by itself, is not a viable dietary staple, but must either be supplemented by other foodstuffs or prepared using alkaline cooking techniques. In this dissertation, I propose that during the Mississippian period, maize was disseminated as a part of a nixtamalizing, hominy foodway which included the Mississippian standard jar, the most prolific artifact found throughout the Mississippian cultural world. Hominy is a dish of boiled maize kernels that have either been ground or are whole and has been cooked until it has a porridge-like texture. Using the Mississippian ritual-ceremonial center of Moundville, located in the Black Warrior Valley of west-central Alabama, as a case study, I demonstrate that before maize could be used as a resource by aspiring elites, residents of the valley first had to like hominy, then learn to make it. The dissemination of a foodway, including specific materials and culinary knowledge, as opposed to the maize plant alone, required a different set of social events and networks than those afforded by political-economic models. Therefore, I develop a new model that focuses on people first being introduced to hominy, then women learning to make it. Ultimately, I propose that the synergistic relationship between maize and Mississippian societies be revised to that between the hominy foodway and Mississippian societies.
dc.format.extent 332 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Archaeology
dc.subject.other Food science
dc.subject.other Native American studies
dc.title From bitter seeds: a historical anthropological approach to Moundville's origins
dc.type thesis
dc.type text University of Alabama. Dept. of Anthropology Anthropology The University of Alabama doctoral Ph.D.

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