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Despite the tendency to focus on vessels when talking about Mississippian ceramics, there were many other types of ceramic objects made during the Mississippian Period, like this pair of ceramic ear plugs (or spools). These ear spools feature an expanded circular section to sit against the outer ear lobe, with a narrower pin to transect the ear lobe. Although the back half of the pin on both ear plugs pictured here appears to simply taper to an end, comparison with other known examples of Mississippian ear spools suggests that there may have been a separate expanded back piece to match the front of the spool. This detachable back would attach to the pin once it passed through the ear lobe to help keep the spool in place once inserted through the ear lobe. Still other comparative examples show that some Mississippian ear spools had a slightly thickened ‘end’ to the pieces to help keep them in place, or even that the pin itself could extend at a downward curve behind the ear to create a counterweight effect.


Ceramics; Jewelry; Ear Plug; Mississippian