Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Ed Jackson

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Marie Danforth

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


The Austin Site (22TU549) is a known transitional Late Woodland to early Mississippian village located in Tunica County, Mississippi. Compared with the cultural phases that have been developed in other regions the northern Yazoo Basin lacks a clearly defined “Emergent Mississippian” phase. This study examined the ceramic assemblage (n=30,567) from a 25% random sample of pit features to measure transitional change as a way to define an early Mississippian phase. It also explored the ways in which this site experiences the Mississippian transition and how it fits into the larger trajectory of the Mississippian phenomenon in the Southeastern United States based on the comparison of three “transition theory” models. From the analysis, based on cultural material and radiocarbon dates from the Austin site, an early Mississippian “Austin” phase was identified with an approximate date of A. D. 1100 to 1300. Attributes employed to measure continuity and change include, identified type-varieties, decorative and vessel modes, vessel morphology and size. Findings from the Austin site ceramic assemblage and other cultural material, provides evidence that this is an indigenous Late Woodland population that was not initially displaced or assimilated by intrusive Mississippian populations. Rather, it would appear that the Austin population’s relationship to neighboring Mississippian populations best conforms to the “independent co-existent” transition model, since they continued to retain elements of their Baytown tradition, while choosing to incorporate selected Mississippian traits into their material culture. This interval of selective incorporation allows for the definition of the Austin phase.