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Each week on the Junior Curators blog, we travel back in time to a different place in Tennessee history. Stories may be about a famous person, place or event from Tennessee’s past. They will include things like priceless artifacts, pictures, videos, and even some games. Be sure to better understand the story by answering the questions at the end of each post.
After learning the story, be sure to share what you've learned with your parents, family, or friends. Try making your own exhibit about it, shooting a movie, or writing a story about it. Let your creativity run wild!
by Grace Allen
Between 1000 and 500 years ago there were Mississippian Indian cities and villages all over Tennessee. Mississippian communities had skilled artists that made pottery and other goods. We have some great examples of this at the Tennessee State Museum.
Check out this memory game using images of Mississippian artifacts in our collection. To play, click to flip over the cards and see the images from our collection. When you flip over two of the same image, the pair will turn green and go away. If you click the wrong pair, the cards will turn red and you can try again!
Mississippian Matching Game:
Read more about the artifacts below:
This is a carving in rock called a petroglyph. This carving may show scenes from the story of the Hero Twins, which was a famous Mississippian legend.
This is a celt. Celts were woodworking tools used to cut and carve wood. They were made by grinding the stone to become smooth. They were attached to a handle like an axe.
This is a piece of effigy pottery. Effigy pottery means it is made in the shape people, animals, or creatures. This bowl is made in the shape of a duck which might have had a spiritual meaning to Mississippians.
This is a pendant worn around the neck which is called a gorget. This gorget has a spider in the center which probably connects to the Native American story of the water spider. In the story, the water spider brought fire to humans.
This is a chunky stone. Chunky was a game played by the Mississippians. The stone was rolled along the ground and players threw spears where they thought it would stop rolling. The closest player won.
This is an effigy pipe made in the shape of a fox. It shows that there were Mississippian artisans, or people who specialized in making pottery for their job.
This is a string of beads made of shell. Mississippians in Tennessee traded things like salt and copper for shell brought through trade networks from hundreds of miles away on the gulf coast.
This is a vase. It is a great example of the Mississippian’s skilled pottery making and design. It shows that there were people who specialized in pottery making for their job.
This is an effigy bottle. It is an effigy bottle because it is made in the shape of a fish. Fish probably had a spiritual meaning to the Mississippians. The neck of the bottle was broken off.
Mississippian – A time period in the Southeast between 1000 and 500 years ago.
Petroglyph – A carving in rock.
Celts – Sharpened tools used to cut and carve things like a knife.
Effigy – A type of pottery made in the shape people, animals, or creatures.
Gorget – A pendant worn around the neck.
Chunky – A game played by the Mississippians that helped with hunting skills.
Trade Networks – A group of communities that trade goods between each other.
To take a quiz about some other artifacts from our First Peoples exhibit, click below:
Grace Allen is an Educator at the Tennessee State Museum.