On common ground: social memory and the plaza at early Moundville

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The Moundville site of west-central Alabama featured one of the largest plazas in the Mississippian world. The construction of Moundville's plaza necessitated the destruction and burial of a prior landscape, obliterating symbols of a contested past at a time when emerging differences in rank and power threatened group cohesion. This dissertation employs landscape-scale geophysical data and targeted excavations to identify what remains of the former settlement and the community plan that replaced it. When the hundreds of previously undocumented buildings are sorted on the basis of architectural style and orientation into chronological categories, it is revealed that dramatic changes in the arrangement of architecture did indeed coincide with the construction of the plaza. Understood from a social memory perspective, this rapid shift is described as an effort to promote inclusivity by selectively reimagining and representing the past. Other conclusions pertain to the division of plaza space into habitation and activity zones and the spatial, historical, and ideological centrality of Moundville's Mound A.

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Archaeology, Geophysics