Raised ground, razed structure: ceramic chronology, occupation and chiefly authority on Mound P at Moundville
Mound P is the largest mound on the western plaza periphery at Moundville in west-central Alabama. Excavations on the western mound flank revealed at least two mound construction episodes and a large amount of modern disturbance. Excavations on the mound summit intersected a large burnt daub structure that was previously indicated by a magnetometer survey. Moundville was depopulated around A.D. 1400 and the occupation of mound summits after this time indicates that leadership positions in the region were still important. Mounds were used as symbols of authority that leaders could co-opt to legitimize their position. A ceramic chronology was developed based on the site's type-variety system for the mound to determine the date of terminal occupation on the summit of the mound. This revealed that the mound was used lightly during the Moundville IV (A.D. 1520-1650) ceramic phase. Other artifacts from the mound suggest that the pigment complex was in use on the summit but a stone manufacturing industry was not. It is suggested that Mound P was occupied late in Moundville's history but abandoned prior to the Protohistoric period and the Spanish intrusion into the Southeastern United States.