The structure of the Mississippian world: A social network approach to the organization of sociopolitical interactions

Jacob Lulewicz, Adam B. Coker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The structure and organization of macroregional networks have long captured the attention of archaeologists working in eastern North America, especially in regard to the overall character and spread of Mississippian culture across the midwestern and southeastern United States. In this paper, we use distributions of marine shell gorgets to evaluate the organization of relationships across the Mississippian world and to understand how social capital was accumulated and reciprocal relationships were established in the context of emerging organizational complexity. We use data on 1980 shell gorgets from 165 sites across eastern North America to investigate the social networks related to the distribution of these materials and, indirectly, to the types of social capital that were produced through regional social relationships. We employ a framework that articulates social network topologies with different forms of social capital to explicate the relational structure of Mississippian sociopolitics and to identify the sociospatial scales at which different forms of social capital, reciprocity, and relationships underwrote these structures. We conclude that resources (both material and immaterial) were likely drawn from community, local, regional, macroregional, and continental-scale networks while multiple types of networks were maintained across these multiscalar relational fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-127
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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