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Duck effigy bowl Falcon effigy bowl, unknown source.

Mississippian potters were the first to adorn their pots with molded representations of animals.

Many of the stone tools used by Mississippian people are similar to those used by their Woodland ancestors. But Mississippian pottery is distinctive because crushed bits of
freshwater mussel shell were mixed into the clay as tempering material instead of crushed rock or sand. This allowed the production of smoother and thinner pottery vessels. In addition to this technological improvement, Mississippians made many new types of pottery vessels.

Bean pot Bean pot, Ester Berry site, Fulton County.

Among the new form of pots is one archaeologists call a "bean" pot, which often have handles and decorations. Like the owl-effigy pot seen above, this bean pot was also covered with a red slip.

Ramey-incised jar Ramey-incised jar, Greene County.

After a pottery vessel had dried, Mississippian potters often incised decorations into the clay before it was fire-hardened. The designs are more than artistic expressions, they are symbols with meaning to the maker and other members of a Mississippian community. These symbols were used repeatedly, but archaeologists have yet to understand their full meaning.

New pottery containers include funnels, plates, pans, water bottles, bean pots, bowls modeled in the shape of human or animal forms, and bowls with modeled clay animal heads attached to their rims. These vessels were decorated with a variety of designs incised into the clay when it was still plastic; scratched into the clay when it was dry but before it was fired; or engraved into the surface after it was fired.

Pottery plate Pottery plate, Crable site, Fulton County.

Mississippian potters made a new container called a plate by archaeologists. The example illustrated here is not as flat as a modern plate, but it probably served the same purpose. The edge of a Mississippian plate was often decorated with geometric designs.

Owl effigy bowl Owl effigy bottle, Orendorf site, Fulton County.

Mississippian people rarely moved when compared to their Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Woodland ancestors. As a result, they had the opportunity to make more things for their home. Mississippian pottery was made in a variety of sizes and shapes including jars, bottles, plates, and bowls, like the one illustrated here.

Like their predecessors, Mississippian people also probably used containers of wood, woven fiber, or hide, but few of these types of containers have survived.

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