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While bowl-shaped vessels are the most common form of Bell Plain pottery, bowls with modeled figures - or effigies - along their bodies and/or rims are less common than bowls with either no rim decoration or with simple incised rim decoration. Archaeological work at Chucalissa has uncovered quite a few of these remarkable Effigy Bowls, like this one which depicts a turtle. The head and tail of the turtle have been modeled on either side of the bowl’s body, the shape of the vessel naturally lending itself to the squat, roughly round profile of a turtle. This Effigy Bowl is especially noteworthy since it has a beautiful notched rim in addition to the structural turtle effigy modeled on its sides. Although the specific use of this bowl is uncertain, the natural association of turtles with water may have been symbolic of the Underworld, which was the water-filled, bottom-most layer of the universe’s three levels according to the religious tenets of the ancient Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.


1200- 1540


Pottery; Bowl, Turtle Effigy Bowl; Mississippian