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Evidence for Stepped Pyramids of Shell in the Woodland Period of Eastern North America

  • Thomas J. Pluckhahn (a1), Victor D. Thompson (a2) and W. Jack Rink (a3)


Antiquarians of the nineteenth century referred to the largest monumental constructions in eastern North America as pyramids, but this usage faded among archaeologists by the mid-twentieth century. Pauketat (2007) has reintroduced the term pyramid to describe the larger, Mississippian-period (A.D. 1050 to 1550) mounds of the interior of the continent, recognizing recent studies that demonstrate the complexity of their construction. Such recognition is lacking for earlier mounds and for those constructed of shell. We describe the recent identification of stepped pyramids of shell from the Roberts Island Complex, located on the central Gulf Coast of Florida and dating to the terminal Late Woodland period, A.D. 800 to 1050, thus recognizing the sophistication of monument construction in an earlier time frame, using a different construction material, and taking an alternative form.

Los anticuarios del siglo XIX se refirieron a las grandes construcciones monumentales en el este de América del Norte como pirámides, pero este uso desapareció entre los arqueólogos a mediados del siglo XX. Pauketat (2007) ha vuelto a introducir el término pirámide para describir los montículos del período Mississippian (1050 a 1550 d.C.) del interior del continente, reconociendo estudios recientes que demuestran la complejidad de su construcción. Se carece de estudios que permitan este reconocimiento para montículos anteriores y para aquellos construidos de concha. Se describe la reciente identificación de pirámides escalonadas de concha del Complejo Isla Roberts, situado en la Costa del Golfo central de Florida y que data del período Woodland Tardío terminal, 800 a 1050 d.C., ampliando así la comprensión de la complejidad de la construcción monumental a un período más temprano, un material de construcción diferente y una forma alternativa.


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