Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Edwin Jackson

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Jeff Kaufmann

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Amy Young

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


This thesis involves the analysis of 2,364 surface-collected ceramic rim sherds from the Deer Island site (22HR500), located in the Mississippi Sound near Biloxi, Mississippi. The overall goal of this thesis is to develop a baseline of information that will add to the current knowledge of prehistoric populations on the north Gulf Coast, as well as a starting point for future investigations on Deer Island. This examination of the ceramic assemblage includes ceramic typology, as well as vessel form and usage, to gain understanding of the chronology, site function, and possible interactions with other contemporary Gulf Coast populations through trade or migration. Analysis shows the occupation of the site stretched from the Pinola phase (A. D. 1200-1350) through the Bear Point phase (A. D. 1550-1699), with most of the occupation within the Singing River phase (A. D. 1350-1550). While a high percentage of fine decorated wares at the site could indicate a ceremonial context, variability of vessel types and sizes suggest that various-sized re~idential groups in extended site occupations appear more likely than short-term feasting episodes by large groups. Trade and the influx of ideas shown by the expression of regional motifs are apparent in the assemblage. Deer Island appears to be connected to other major Mississippian locales on the north Gulf Coast through shared cultural ideas, but unique ceramic expression indicates at least some degree of independence.