Neill Wallis

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Florida, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9440

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Wallis, Dr. Neill J., U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Sourcing Mississippian Pottery Among the Complex Maritime Cultures of Florida's Peninsular Gulf Coast'

Preliminary abstract: This research investigates production and circulation patterns of late pre-Columbian Mississippian pottery vessels along the Gulf coast of west-peninsular Florida, ca. AD 1100 to 1500, to understand the role of these objects in shifts toward increasing sociopolitical complexity. The complex, hierarchical societies of this region were fisher-hunter-gatherers and did not practice agriculture, yet many sites incorporated the iconography of Mississippian agricultural chiefdoms to the north through the use of foreign styles of pottery. The project will compile an inventory of such pottery, date its occurrence through AMS assays, and identify its provenance through Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) and petrographic analysis. In turn, understanding the ways that Mississippian pottery and its makers circulated will help determine how these objects and iconography were valued in west-peninsular Florida and how they might have been related to authority and power amid escalating sociopolitical complexity. Two hypotheses are evaluated. First, if social and political power in west-central Florida depended on acquisition of ritual objects made within Mississippian polities to the north, nonlocal vessels will be concentrated at the largest centers in elite contexts that date to periods of political preeminence. Second, if power was linked to elite control of ritual vessel production, local vessels will be concentrated at the largest centers and distributed among smaller sites within west-peninsular Florida. These outcomes implicate vastly different regimes of value relevant to prestige, with the first privileging the aura of exotic objects related to success in social networks and the second emphasizing appropriation of labor and control of symbols through translation in local acts of production.