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Pottery Projectile Point Effigy Pipe

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MAM 2006 Poster

Click the image above to download a high-resolution .PDF version of the poster.

The Denton Turtle
Survival for Mississippi’s prehistoric inhabitants was intimately tied to nature as their lives were constantly re-shaped by the rhythms of the natural environment. Therefore, it is not surprising that they were greatly influenced by the creatures they encountered in their daily lives. For Mississippi’s Indians, turtles provided a valuable resource. Not only did it provide a source of food, but its shell could be used as a container for food or as raw material for fashioning dancing rattles, beads, pendants or buttons. Some of the American Indian cultures encountered during the period of European contact and colonization perceived the world as comprised of three different realms: an Upper World (the sky), an Underworld (under ground or water) and This World (on Land). Because the turtle possessed the unique ability to travel on land and water, it was believed that it could move in-between two worlds. Thus, it is not surprising that such a culturally significant creature as the turtle is depicted in a work of Mississippi’s very earliest and finest art- The Denton Turtle.

The Denton Site (22Qu522) is a Middle Archaic (7500-5500 years ago) site located in the upper Yazoo Basin. Radiocarbon dates place occupation of the Denton site at around 6000 years ago. The site consists of three “rises” along a natural levee. These rises may be remnants of mounds, which means Denton could be Mississippi’s oldest known mound site. Denton is also the type site for the Denton and Opossum Bayou projectile points, two Middle Archaic stemmed points. Denton is perhaps best known for the 16 complete zoomorphic effigy beads and portions of 6 others that have been found there. Even more uncommon than zoomorphic effigy beads are carved stone turtles such as the one featured on the poster above. It is made of trachyte, a greenish-gray stone found in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.


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