Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Marie Danforth

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

H. Edwin Jackson

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Amy Chasteen Miller

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


This thesis is an inventory and analysis of the juvenile remains excavated in 2010 from a Middle Mississippian ossuary at the Shady Grove site (22QU525), located in the Mississippi Delta. This project presents a clear challenge given the commingled and incomplete nature of the sample, as well as the preservation biases associated with subadult material, but this research offers valuable insight into the demographic pattern of the larger population at the site, as well as the mortuary practices which created the ossuary at Shady Grove. A “bone-by-bone” inventory revealed the presence of 43 juvenile individuals between the ages of 0 and 18 years old. Demographic comparisons to contemporaneous populations highlight the under representation of infant individuals within this burial likely due to pre-depositional loss, and the increased representation of 1 to 3 and 3 to 5 years old individuals, potentially relative to the heightened rates of infectious cranial and postcranial lesions in these age groups. The spatial distribution and analysis for each age category display the lack of any intentional pattern or placement design, as well as the high level of commingling and fragmentation within the ossuary. This large mass burial appears to represent the final resting place for a local kin group, bound together by the ritual inclusion in the deposit, and is likely one of many ossuaries still undiscovered at the Shady Grove site.