Transforming the Landscape: Rock Art and the Mississippian Cosmos [Paperback]

Carol Diaz-Granados (Editor); Jan Simek (Editor); George Sabo (Editor); Mark Wagner (Editor)

ISBN: 9781785706288 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: American Landscapes | Volume: 4 | Year of Publication: 2018 | Language: English 288p, H246 x W180 (mm) b/w and colour

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Transforming the Landscape


This beautifully illustrated volume examines American Indian rock art across an expansive region of eastern North America during the Mississippian Period (post AD 900). Unlike portable cultural material, rock art provides in situ evidence of ritual activity that links ideology and place. The focus is on the widespread use of cosmograms depicted in Mississippian rock art imagery. This approach anchors broad distributional patterns of motifs and themes within a powerful framework for cultural interpretation, yielding new insights on ancient concepts of landscape, ceremonialism, and religion. It also provides a unified, comprehensive perspective on Mississippian symbolism. A selection of landscape cosmograms from various parts of North America and Europe taken from the ethnographic records are examined and an overview of American Indian cosmographic landscapes provided to illustrate their centrality to indigenous religious traditions across North America. Authors discuss what a cosmogram-based approach can teach us about people, places, and past environments and what it may reveal that more conventional approaches overlook. Geographical variations across the landscape, regional similarities, and derived meaning found in these data are described. The authors also consider the difficult subject of how to develop a more detailed chronology for eastern rock art.

Table of Contents

List of Illustration and Tables
  1. Materiality and Cultural Landscapes in Native America
 George Sabo and Jan Simek
Missouri: West Mississippi River Valley
2. The Big Five Petroglyph Sites: Their Place on the Landscape and Relation to Their  Creators   
 James R. Duncan and Carol Diaz-Granados
3. Landscape, Cosmology, and the Old Woman: A Strong Feminine Presence                               
 James R. Duncan and Carol Diaz-Granados
Arkansas:  Ozark Escarpment West of the Mississippi River
4.   Petroglyphs, Portals, and People: Along the Eastern Ozark Escarpment, Arkansas
 George Sabo III, Jerry E. Hilliard, Jami J. Lockhart, and Leslie C. Walker
Illinois:  East Mississippi River Valley
5.          Transformed Spaces: A Landscape Approach to the Rock Art of Illinois
  Mark J. Wagner, Kayeleigh Sharp, and Jonathan Remo
Appalachian Plateau
6.    Prehistoric Rock Art, Social Boundaries, and Cultural Landscapes on the Cumberland Plateau of
Southeast North America
 Jan F. Simek, Alan Cressler, and B. Bart Henson
Appalachian Mountains
7.   Betwixt And Between: The Occurrence of Petroglyphs Between Townhouses of the Living and
Townhouses of Spirit Beings in Northern Georgia and Western North Carolina
 Johannes Loubser, Scott Ashcraft, James Wettstaed

Reviews & Quotes

"Organised into seven thought-provoking chapters, each accompanied by high-quality images, this book will be an important contribution into understanding regional rock-art trends in a continent that has a complex, dynamic and distinct range in its rock-art assemblages."
George Nash
Current World Archaeology (28/01/2019)

"I commend the editors for their daring vision and timely contribution to American rock art scholarship. "
H. Denise Smith
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (15/01/2019)

"...this is a thought-provoking and informative book on the fascinating subject of rock art in the southeastern United States."
Laura Slack
Time & Mind: the Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture.

"...challenge[s] archaeologists to think beyond customarily considered relationships among people, portable objects, and architecture and to consider rock art as one of many contexts through which native peoples of eastern North America expressed their understandings of animate landscapes."
Erin Stevens Nelson
American Antiquity (01/02/2019)

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