A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication
Within the last 50 years archaeologists have discovered that around the 10th century A.D., native southeastern peoples began a process of cultural change far more complex than anything that had occurred previously. These late prehistoric societies—known as Mississippian—have come to be regarded as chiefdoms. The chiefdoms are of great anthropological interest because in these kinds of societies social hierarchies or rank and status were first institutionalized.
Ancient Chiefdoms of the Tombigbee focuses on both the small- and large-scale Mississippian societies in the Tombigbee-Black Warrior River region of Alabama and Mississippi. Exploring the relationships involving polity size, degree of social ranking, and resource control provides insights into cycles of chiefdom development and fragmentation. Blitz concludes that the sanctified, security maintenance roles of communal food storage management and war leadership were a sufficient basis for formal chiefly authority but insufficient for economically based social stratification.