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Awatovi  

E. Charles Adams

Site in North America, in north-eastern Arizona. A Hopi village was established there by c. ad 1250 and destroyed in 1700. During excavations (1935–9) by the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, almost 150 wall paintings were discovered in 11 kivas (subterranean ceremonial structures; see Kiva). The wall paintings were first executed c. 1375 using the fresco secco technique and continued up to Spanish contact in the early 17th century. Except for black, inorganic pigments were used, including red, yellow, blue, green, pink, orange, brown, grey and white. Plant, animal and anthropomorphic forms are portrayed, as well as clouds, lightning, water symbols and geometric designs. The subject matter is religious, depicting parts of ceremonies, events and creatures of Hopi oral history, and altars used to perform ceremonies. Later compositions convey a feeling of movement, many showing symbolic combat between two figures. The sudden appearance of elaborate kiva wall paintings seems to coincide with the development of ...

Article

Cahokia  

David M. Jones

Site in the USA in East St Louis, IL, of a huge Pre-Columbian city. Founded c. ad 700, it was the largest prehistoric city ever built north of Mexico and was probably influenced by political and civic ideas from Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian. At its height, between c. ad 1050 and c. 1250, Cahokia encompassed c. 13 sq. km and had a population of c. 10–15,000. Although located in the north-west part of the middle Mississippi Southern Cult area, it was the political, economic and religious centre for more than 50 towns (see Native North American art, §I, 4, (v)). The exact nature of its power or rule, however, is uncertain. A potential rival in the south-east of the cult area was Moundville, AL, nearly as large. Cahokia began to decline after c. 1250, although some of its satellite towns, at such sites as Angel, Aztatlan, Dickson and Kinkaid, continued to flourish as local centres. A drastic population decline ...

Article

Etowah  

David S. Brose

Site in north-west Georgia, USA, where a densely occupied, haphazardly planned agricultural village flourished in the Mississippian period (c. ad 1000–c. 1600). It covers 21 ha at the junction of the southern Appalachian Mountains and the piedmont, at the major fork of the Coosa River. The site was surrounded by palisades with outworks. Within the village area were three large mounds arranged around an open plaza. Mound A, the largest, has a ramp. Both it and Mound B are flat-topped pyramidal structures, presumably built to support temple buildings. Excavations in Mound C (intermittent since 1884) reveal it to have been built in at least three stages, during the construction of which over 300 burials were interred.

In the last stage, after c. ad 1400, only a few socially élite burials (including rather impoverished retainers) were placed in a tomb dug below the floor of a temple on Mound C’s final summit. Large carved stone cult statues marked the entrance to the burial chamber. The élite individuals were fully dressed in ritual costumes and were accompanied by ...

Article

David S. Brose

Site of a prehistoric village with complex earthworks, which flourished on the banks of Caloosahatchee River near Lake Okeechobee in south Florida, USA. By c. 450 bc the hunter–gatherer occupants had created a 9 m-wide, 350 m-diameter circular ditch to drain a vast garden plot. By c. ad 150 a more complex system of circular and radial ditches enclosed a ceremonial centre with two low, flat-topped mounds. On one of the mounds stood a charnel house in which bodies were prepared for placement on a roughly constructed wooden platform, standing in an artificial pond. The upper platform piers were elaborately carved to represent birds and felines. At the collapse of this platform, c. ad 500, many of the 300 burial bundles were salvaged, placed on the former location of the charnel house and covered with a mound of sand. Several of these reburials were accompanied by incised and stamped platform pipes of a style known as Hopewellian (...

Article

Craig D. Bates

Site in North America of the most elaborate known Chumash rock art, near the Emigdiano village site of Tashlipunau in the extreme south-west corner of Kern County, CA. The area is north of Mt Pinos, one of the mountain peaks most sacred to the Chumash, near the centre of their universe. The area was probably recognized as a place of supernatural power and may have been a ritual centre. Spread through four cave shelters are neatly and carefully executed paintings, comprising large circular motifs with concentric rings, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, dots, bifurcated and zigzag forms painted in black, white, yellow, cream, shades of red, orange, green and blue-green. While much of the patterning and colours are like those found in other Chumash rock art sites, the orange and green pigments are unique to this site and are thought to have been secured by the Chumash from non-natives. It is speculated that this paint was obtained by the Chumash when they sacked mission supplies in the revolt of ...