Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

M. Jared Wood

Committee Member 1

Heidi Altman

Committee Member 2

J. Matthew Compton


The Mississippian time period (A.D. 900-1600) in the Southeast of North America began with the development of ranked societies where the elite governed from and resided in administrative centers with earthen mounds and no formal bureaucracy. Much of the remaining population lived at smaller, non-mound sites. Given that the majority of people in these polities lived at non-mound sites, it is important to understand these places and their contexts. Current literature does not provide a clear architectural grammar of how these sites are defined socially or archaeologically. Due to variations in socio-political organization, and amount of excavation and research, site descriptions vary. I have summarized current literature into four different types of non-mound sites: town/village, hamlet, farmstead/homestead, and limited activity/special-use.

The Fitzner North End (9SN256) site, a non-mound Middle Mississippian site near the confluence of Brier Creek and the Savannah River in Georgia, provides a case study to investigate one non-mound site. Methods include block excavations guided by artifact and feature diversity and distribution and analysis of the resulting data. In addition, a small-scale energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (ED-XRF) spectrometry analysis provides insights into the potential for expanding this type of study for determining variations in Middle Woodland and Middle Mississippian pottery from the site. I conclude that Fitzner North End is most similar to a farmstead or homestead because of its relatively small size (0.3 ha) located near farmable rich soils. The site displays a range of domestic artifacts assumed with seasonal to year-round habitation and lacks the ceremonial/communal nature of a town/village or hamlet site and the limited range of domestic artifacts associated with a special-use or limited activity site. This case study adds to the growing literature and invites future research studies on non-mound Mississippian sites in the Savannah River valley.

Research Data and Supplementary Material