Archaeology has begun to contribute to the history of spirituality in the Eastern Woodlands of North America to complement the perspectives offered by the comparative study of religions and by ethnological, folkloric, art historical, and astronomical research. Support can be found in the forms and types of ritual paraphernalia and in the associated iconography for the thesis that shamanism was a basic form of religious experience that extended back to the earliest material traces. Elaborations upon this foundation became most conspicuous during the Mississippian Period when social hierarchies developed upon an expanded, agriculturally supported population. Animal imagery changed, ancestor cults became elaborated, and cosmography took on increased importance in architecture, site layout, and mortuary rites. The canonical forms of the iconography of this period have become known as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Since European contact, practices and beliefs associated with social hierarchies have disappeared or transformed.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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