Hominy cooking; Dr. Rachel Briggs

How Women Created the Mississippian World at Moundville, A.D. 1070-1200


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Presenter: Dr. Rachel Briggs, Teaching Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Rachel Briggs specializes American Indian foodways, gender, and the emergence of complex societies in the Southeastern United States. Dr. Briggs will speak about how archaeologists have traditionally used the apex of Mississippian societies to model the genesis of these socially complex organizations. While Mississippian societies were certainly socially stratified, with elites provisioned with food and other materials, in the light of new research, this “top-down” model overly emphasizes the role of elites and men, while underplaying the importance of commoners and women. In this presentation, she offers a “bottom-up” approach for understanding the genesis of Mississippian societies. Using the ritual-ceremonial center of Moundville as a case study, and by focusing on shifts in cuisine and residence patterns during the Late Woodland and Early Mississippian periods, she argues that it was first changes in the everyday practices of women, and thus the construction of a Mississippian notion of womanhood, that established the Mississippian identity made manifest in the artificial landscape.


She Changed the World and Trowel Blazers: Women Making History

She Changed the World Logo

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. As part of a national campaign to commemorate this historic event, North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) is coordinating a campaign titled “She Changed the World: NC Women Breaking Barriers” through November 2020. Our goal is to share and celebrate the achievements of ALL North Carolina women and illuminate North Carolinian women's pivotal role in breaking down barriers in our state and the nation. In honor of this campaign, the OSA will be highlighting the accomplishments of North Carolina women past and present whose lives have been revealed through archaeology and those who have influenced the development and future of our field through the “Trowel Blazers: Women Making History” initiative.