<< back to Archaeological Collection

Mississippian & Woodland Artifacts - Archaeological Collection

Mississippian culture flourished along the Mississippi River and its tributaries from approximately a.d. 800 to a.d. 1700, overlapping the protohistoric period of the beginnings of European explorations and settlement. The culture was distinguished by a chiefdom level of social organization and a ranked society with a complex religion; a range of settlements from large walled towns and centers with civic-ceremonial mounds to hamlets, farmsteads, and small, special-purpose camps; far-flung trade and exchange networks; and a subsistence that relied largely on agriculture.

The Mississippian period is often thought of in connection with large permanent village settlements and the beginning of widespread corn agriculture. Tremendous variation in site size, pottery types, and other material culture are hallmarks of the period. Mississippian cultural tradition arose from regional late Woodland variations. Mississippian tradition flourished throught the midcontinent of North America until the consequences of European contact in the 16th century—especially disease—decimated native populations.

Mississippian people produced finely made pottery, chipped-stone and groundstone tools, shell ornaments, and other tools. Evidence of widespread trade includes catlinite from Minnesota, conch shells from the Gulf Coast, fluorite crystals from Kentucky, and cherts from Illinois and Tennessee. All these materials are found at Mississippian sites in Missouri. European materials were introduced as early as 1541 from Hernándo de Soto's expeditions. Effigy pots in the Museum exhibit hall are a hallmark of the Mississippian period.

Notable Museum holdings include the Jaguar Gorget, the Lilbourn Mace, and ceramic effigies.

Image Gallery >>

Related Links

Wood, W.R., The Jaguar Gorget (Missouri Archaeological Society Quarterly)

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site


Lilbourn Mace
Lilbourn Mace
New Madrid County, Missouri
MAC 1971-578

female effigy bottle
Female Human Effigy Bottle
New Madrid County, Missouri
MAC 1979-248


Museum of Anthropology, Mizzou North, Suite 2002, 115 Business Loop 70 W, Columbia, MO 65211-1440

The Museum is under construction at Mizzou North. Check back here for updates.

For Museum Questions, email anthromuseum@missouri.edu