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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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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 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.