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Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association

Mississippian Elites and Solar Alignments: A Reflection of Managerial Necessity, or Levers of Social Inequality?

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Abstract

Two alternative, but not necessarily mutually exclusive interpretive perspectives on Mississippian alignments are discussed. From the managerial necessity perspective of Peebles and Kus, among others, such solar alignments and “observatories” such as the Woodhenges of Cahokia, would be viewed as integral to the chiefly management and scheduling of complex maize-centered agricultural economies and the monitoring and controlling of the annual cycle of field clearing, planting and harvesting. In contrast, from the perspective of Anthony Giddens, such solar alignments or “observatories” can be alternatively viewed as structures of domination–containers of authoritative resources involved in the control of social time-space that provided powerful levers of social inequality.

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