Shell is frequently found at ancient Mississippian sites and represents an important material in the lives of the prehistoric Mississippian peoples. Shell could be used in many different ways. For example, shells were frequently used to create personal adornment items like ear plugs and pendants. Furthermore, crushed shell was an integral part of making Mississippian pottery: crushed shell was mixed into the clay that was going to be used to create ceramic vessels, and this is why archaeologists describe Mississippian pottery as shell-tempered! The different types of shells found at Mississippian sites can also provide insight into more ephemeral aspects of ancient life, for example trade. For instance, some of the shell found here at Chucalissa, such as marine shells, are not local to west Tennessee river drainages and therefore must have been transported to Chucalissa, likely as an exchange for a locally sourced raw material. In fact, archaeologists have traced significant long-distance trade routes across much of the North American continent by comparing find-spots with source-locations in this manner.
Museum, Chucalissa, "Shell Raw Material" (2022). Artifacts. 120.
Raw Material; Shell; Mississippian