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One of the bigger exhibits in the interpretive center/museum in Moundville is seen as soon as you walk in the front door of the museum.  The exhibit is called “The Procession: Splendor at Ancient Moundville.”  This is an exhibit of a young elite woman being carried around by four noble warriors with the help of a greeter and a flute player. These young elite women who were carried around were almost always the daughter of a ruler in the community, because in the Southeastern Native American way of life, descent was very important. Around the elite women being carried around there would be gifts including copper, bowls, exotic feathers, squash, woven goods, among others.  These elite brides were generally being carried to see their husband, who is generally the heir of a ruler in Moundville.

Another exhibit from the museum that was very interesting was the pottery made in Moundville that was on display. The exhibit explained the history of pottery and how it was made in that time period. Pottery was first introduced over 4,000 years ago in North America in parts of the Southeast. Pottery was originally created as plain bowls with thick walls. As people became more familiar with pottery, it became more complex and advanced. In Moundville, pottery was created from clay, with the addition of mussel shell. The pottery in Moundville was more sophisticated and included different shaped pottery bowls with increasingly more difficult designs. Pottery was also included on the exhibit with the elite woman being carried around.  Among the gifts that were on the chair with the woman were bowls of pottery.


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The Jemison Mansion, which is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was constructed over the years of 1859 to 1862 by Senator Robert Jemison Jr. Jemison was said to be a shrewd man when spending money on his home so it explains why the house was constructed by the work of slaves and materials from his many slave plantations. Jemison was a very wealthy business man and owned many sawmills and coal mines. The Jemison household was very advanced for its time having a plumbing system, indoor lighting, a relatively modern refrigerator, a gas stove, and indoor lighting. Jemison owned six plantation homes and over 500 slaves and started becoming involved in Alabama politics in the 1830s. Although the Jemison mansion was created pre-civil war, Jemison worked with the Confederate army as a defendant of the south. Jemison was a large advocate for the building of an institution for the mentally insane (Bryce Hospital) in the city of Tuscaloosa. The architectural firm Sloan & Stewart was brought from Philadelphia to build both the original hospital and the Jemison home. Although the house looks to be finished, while it was in the hands of Jemison and his family the house was never completed, partly due to the timing of the eruption of the Civil War. A notable fact is that after the end of the Civil War, Jemison was a large part in the rebuilding of the University of Alabama due to the fires on campus and destruction. After Jemison's death in 1871 and post-Civil War, the Jemison house changed hands many times to a distant relative Jemison-Van de Graaf who has restored the house to its relative state. The house was previously used for a public library until the late 1970s, to now being a space for tours and large celebrations.


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At my visit to Moundville and the Moundville museum, I learned a lot more about the ancient native civilization that was mentioned over the course of the class. The inhabitants of Moundville were part of the Mississipian culture located in the southern Mississippi River Valley over the years of 900-1350. During this time the Mississippian culture had a patchwork of chiefdom, towns around central plazas and temples, and a labor system, governmental structure and a highly advanced trading network. When visiting Moundville, I was able to examine all of these characteristics while learning about the Moundville society in the museum. In the Moundville museum I was able to learn about the different roles individuals played in society such as those who fished, made goods for the tribe and to trade in the trade network, those who held high positions and what separated people within the hierarchy.  One aspect of the museum that stood out was how the inhabitants handled burials and how they are supposed to have believed in a life after death. In one of the parts of the museum, it showed how a burial of a member was held and how close relatives gathered as the dead was lowered into a grave and buried with food and goods for the afterlife. What I enjoyed most about Moundville was seeing how advanced of a society Moundville was with its collection of goods such as bowls and intricate celebrations, highlighting the different roles individuals played in their culture.




The Drish house, located at 2300 17th St., borders the city limits of Tuscaloosa. The building, built to be a plantation house, has had numerous identities throughout the years. The plantation house was just that for decades until being transformed into a public school. As the structure weakened, it was turned into a garage. The property, bought by a church, was then used as a meeting place until the church closed. Now, the building the property of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society.

The house stands alone in a circular plot of land. To view the house, the road simply goes around the house. The plantation house was the focal point of the area. It still is today. Buildings from the present, however, surround this building of the past, making the structure seem out of place.

The structure is simple. The base of the building, constructed from numerous squares, come together to create a symmetric building. In the front, there is a porch with columns. Windows are incorporated throughout the building on every side, which lets in the light. This architecture dates the plantation house to the past.

The Drish House is worth going to, in my opinion. The building stands alone as a structure from the past, but there are things to learn from it. I was able to envision the living situation of a plantation owner just by going to this simple plot of land.

Construction on the Jemison-Van de Graaf Mansion began in 1859. The architects, John Stewart and Samuel Sloan, designed Bryce Hospital too. Skilled slaves completed the majority of the construction, additionally most of the materials used came from plantations. The house consists of a foyer, a library, and not one, but two parlors. There is also a verandah. The Civil War, however, caused planned features for the house to remain incomplete.

The owner, Robert Jemison Junior, took part in a variety of occupations, owning as many as six plantations and more than five hundred slaves. Jemison became Senator Jemison for the state of Alabama. His opinion was not a secret. He was against the Union, but he served on the Confederate Senate. After the Civil War, with his money lost, he helped the effort to rebuild the University of Alabama.

The house was attained by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and the Heritage Commission of Tuscaloosa. These organizations started renovations on the building, which continue today. This piece of history, located just inside Tuscaloosa, can be rented out for a variety of events.

Visiting the house was a blast from the past. The architecture is like nothing you would find today. That is just the beginning. The inside of the house, though renovated, resembles that of the 1800s. The information that I have learned in class allowed me to imagine the reality of the time while in the house.


The Jones Archaeological Museum

 Exhibit #1

The exhibit on the religion of the native people, housed in the adjacent room, stood out to me. This may have been because of the special lighting, but the information presented did not disappoint. The exhibit began with a summary of the beliefs and traditions of the people. According to the plaque, religion was at the center of the community. Religious ceremonies commemorated a variety of significant points of life. Life did not end with death. The people believed that the soul traveled to an after-life.

A structure was set up just inside the doorway. The structure, made of earth, was only one room. It was empty, except for a few things here and there. Historians determined that the structure was for important ceremonies, such as religious ceremonies. I found this hard to believe because of the simplicity. This, however, reminded me of the simplicity of the time.

Natives adopted the ability to use the resources around the area. Such resources were used to make clay vessels, in which different stories were depicted by engravings. A winged serpent appeared on a number of vessels in this exhibit. The animal was like nothing I have ever seen before, but the artistry conveyed the animal quite well. The plaque claimed that this animal appeared to people in spiritual visions. This form of art allows people today to envision how the natives viewed the celestial world.

I find the subject of religion to be thought-provoking, in any context, because religion is never the same for separate groups. This exhibit presented new information, allowing me to learn more about the people. This exhibit was, by far, my favorite aspect of the museum.


Exhibit #2

            Historians determined all the information in the museum through the artifacts found in the area. One part of the exhibit describes the different trades of the males in the community. Each of the descriptions came from a variety of tools found. I found this to be not only informative of the roles of males, but also informative of the needs of the community.

Descriptions included that of the elite. This included noble men, heirs to the throne, and especially the chief. Material objects, such as clothing, jewelry, and houses, set the elite apart from the others. All of the artifacts in the case looked better crafted. This status meant that the elites received special treatment. With this special treatment came special duties. The elite were to use the special treatment to better the community as a whole.

Another description was that of the community medicine man. The medicine man not only collected different herbs, but also mixed these natural ingredients in different ways to heal a variety of conditions. Everything used to mix these were included in the artifacts, such as clay dishes and tools made from rocks. I imagine that the medicine man was important in the community based on the amount of artifacts found relating to the trade.

This exhibit allowed me to better understand the roles of different people within the community. The information showed that each one of the trades contributed to the community in a different way. This, in turn, allowed the community to be successful.