Case studies combine archaeological data and oral tradition to illustrate how the archaeological expression of beliefs and meanings passed down in the oral tradition may be interpreted.
Explanations in Iconography: Ancient American Indian Art, Symbol, and Meaning is a significant contribution to the field of archaeology – a contribution in iconography studies that has gradually been coming into its own. Iconography is a rich and fascinating field, as applied to the complex, and heretofore enigmatic, imagery on many ancient Pre-Columbian artifacts. When viewed through the lens of early ethnographic records and American Indian oral traditions, as well as information from knowledgeable American Indian elders, it opens a world of understanding and clarity until recently unknown in the field of anthropological archaeology. It brings us closer to the people who created the artifacts and offers a glimpse into the symbols and beliefs that were important to them. Chapters cover a wide variety of artifacts and imagery from several ancient American Indian cultures. These artifacts include petroglyphs and pictographs (rock art), mounds, engraved shell cups and gorgets, burial architecture and grave furniture, pottery, copper repoussé, and other media. Ancient graphics, engravings, mounds, and all were created to deliver a message to the viewer – and many of those messages are finally coming to light. The artifacts included are from a variety of regions, mainly in the Midwest and Eastern United States. We hope that this volume will encourage others to look more deeply into the meaning behind the ancient imagery and arts and give the past a chance to be known.
Contributors Preface 1. I Thoughts and ideas on how iconography works – a basic primer on how to do iconography Carol Diaz-Granados 2. SON OF THE SUN: Iconography in rock art and artifacts that reveals important associations between symbolism associated with Dhegiha religion, celestial bodies and Western Mississippian Ideology James R. Duncan and Carol Diaz-Granados Vestiges of the Birdman at Etowah Vestiges of the First Man Lineage at Etowah (Georgia) Adam King 4. The House Between Life and Death: Interpretations About the Organization of Mound 3 at the Lake Jackson Site J. Grant Stauffer 5. Effigy mounds and rock art of midcontinental North America: Shared iconography, shared stories Bradley T. Lepper, Robert F. Boszhardt, James R. Duncan, and Carol Diaz-Granados (reprint from North American Archaeologist, with permission) 6. “Paired Figures Confronting a Forked Pole:” So What’s Up with the Forked Pole? George Sabo III and Alex W. Barker 7. The Hero Twins in the Lower Mississippi Valley David H. Dye 8. Arguments for the Age of Serpent Mound Bradley T. Lepper, James R. Duncan, Carol Diaz-Granados, Tod Frolking (reprint from Cambridge Archaeological Journal, with permission) 9. Contextualizing Mississippian Statuary from the Mississippi/Ohio River Confluence Steven L. Boles 10. The Great Importance of the Great Serpent James R. Duncan Index
Carol Diaz-Granados is a professional archaeologist and Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St Louis, where she has lectured for 39 years. Her major research focus is American Indian rock art, symbolism, and iconography, and associated oral traditions. Carol has written, edited, or co-edited five books and has chapters in various edited volumes and two museum exhibition catalogues. Her 2004 volume, Rock-Art of Eastern North America won an Outstanding Academic Title award. Carol was senior editor of Transforming the Landscape: Rock Art and the Mississippian Cosmos (2018).
“Those who follow the recent tacks and swerves in the interpretation of Mississippian-era symbolism will want to add this moderately priced volume to their libraries.”
~Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 79, Number 4, 2023
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