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Posts Tagged ‘Mississipians’

Arte pré-colombiana. Scala Group. Itália, 2009.

A datação do desenho e da construção original, assim como a identidade dos construtores da efígie da serpente, são três questões ainda debatidas nas disciplinas da ciência social, incluindo a etnologia, a arqueologia e a antropologia. Adicionalmente, os índigenas americanos actuais têm um interesse particular por este sítio. Várias atribuições têm sido feitas, com preocupações académicas, filosóficas e questões de identidade dos Nativos Americanos, sobre os factores desconhecidos de quando foi desenhado, construído e por quem.

Este montículo encontra-se localizado num planalto da cratera do Montículo da Serpente, ao longo do rio Ohio Brush, no condado de Adams, no Ohio. Ao longo dos anos os estudiosos propuseram que a estrutura fôra construída pela cultura adena, a cultura hopewell ou a cultura de fort ancient. A datação de Rádio carbono, a partir de carvão descoberto dentro do montículo, em 1990, forneceu a indicação que esta foi eregida por volta de 1070 d.C. Dada esta ultima evidência, um pequeno grupo de investigadores atribui o montículo original à cultura de fort ancient. Algumas outras evidências contradizem esta ideia. Por exemplo, em 1880, investigadores da Universidade de Harvard desenterraram sepulturas na vizinhança que são datadas da cultura adena. Além de que o montículo não contem artefactos característicos da cultura de fort ancient.

Levantamento em desenho do Montículo da Serpente. Fonte: Internet.

Quanto ao seu propósito, o Montículo da Serpente é a mais comprida efígie do mundo, com 400 m de comprimento. Enquanto existem vários montículos sepulcrais ao redor dela, esta não contem nenhuns restos humanos. Portanto não foi construída com propósitos funerários.

Os cherokee relacionam a esta estrutura a lenda da Uktena, uma grande serpente com poderes e uma aparência sobrenatural. A existência desta lenda atesta a importância da figura esculpida. Vários investigadores têm especulado que, talvez, as antigas populações nativas tenham criado grandes santuários totémicos que foram construídos em plataformas feitas de terra e pedra. Tais efígies poderiam ter sido destruídas por guerras ou alterações entre culturas hereditárias, resultando que só a plataforma tenha sobrevivido.

Em 1987, Clark e Marjorie Hardman publicaram a sua descoberta, de que a área de cabeça oval da serpente estava alinhada com o por do sol no solstício de verão. Outros estudos apresentam alinhamentos lunares, dois solstícios e dois eventos dos equinócios, cada ano. Se o Montículo da Serpente foi desenhado para assinalar a ordem solar e lunar, seria importante como a consolidação do conhecimento astronómico, num único símbolo. Se a data de 1070 d.C. é correcta esta poderia, teoricamente, ter sido influenciada por dois eventos astronómicos: a luz da super nova que criou a Nébula do Caranguejo em 1054 e a aparência do Cometa Haley em 1066. O Montículo da Serpente também pode ter sido desenhado de acordo com o padrão das estrelas que compõem a constelação de Draco. Este padrão encaixa com bastante precisão na estrutura, com a antiga Estrela Polar, Draconis-alpha, como o seu centro geográfico dentro do primeiro, dos sete rolos da cabeça. O Montículo está localizado num planalto com uma estrutura única de criptoexplosão, contendo falhas rochosas dobradas, usualmente produzidas tanto por meteoritos como por explosões vulcânicas.

 

Anúncios

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Across the Southeast of the United States of North America a great corn-fed civilization had arisen, that of the Temple Mound Builders, so named for the religious edifices which topped their great earth thumps. Also called the Mississippian culture in nod to its stronghold in the bottomlands of the Mississippi and Ohio, it aroused around 750 AD, lasted into the historic period, and would penetrate as far westwards as Oklahoma and northwards to Wisconsin.

The Temple Mound Builders did not spring pure-formed out of the air, but were the culmination of other local cultures, dating back to at least 1000 BC and the Adena of the Ohio, who constructed earthen mounds as burial sites for their deceased. Many traits of Adena culture were carried on by successive mound-building culture, the Hopewell, which radiated out from Ohio to Amerindian villages in the Midwest and east. More sophisticated agriculturalists than the Adena, the Hopewell were also major league artisans, securing obsidian from Yellowstone, tortoiseshell from the Gulf of México, silver from Ontario, bear teeth from Wyoming, all fashioned for adornments, religious ritual or as grave goods. One of the Hopewell’s most distinctive artifacts was a tubular stone pipe with animal effigies; in the pipe they smoked tobacco, not for pleasure but for ceremony. It was due to the Hopewell that pipe-smoking became universal amongst the amerindians of North America.

Hopewell pipe.

By 500 AD the Hopewell culture was in terminal decay. In is steed arose the Mississippian, with the shift to major cropping of corn encouraging more complex political and social structures; nowhere was this more clearly seen than in the Mississippian capital of Cahokia. Other best known sites are Emerald, Moundville, in the south, Etowah and Ocmulgee, and in the west, Spiro, Oklahoma.

Mississippian towns were usually established on an island or near a river. A plaza laid out, with several houses and temples enclosed by a palisade. Dwellings were constructed of long saplings set upright in trenches, and the roof frameworks was woven like a huge basket. The exterior surfaces of the walls were lathed with cane and plastered with clay. Temples seem to have been built over demolished or outworn council chambers: the flat-topped pyramids becoming the foundation for the temples. Elsewhere, entire hilltops were leveled off and terraced to create plazas, with temple mounds built on top. These traditions of building activities alongside with the practice of human sacrifices reflect Mesoamerican influences, although the architectural results were more primitive.

Over the river from modern-day St Louis, Cahokia gathered within its palisades walls over 10.000 people, ruled over by small nobility, themselves under the tutelage of an absolute monarchy, the Great Sun chief. This was a rigid theocracy, whose lieder was not permitted to put foot to the ground, so was carried in a litter. Society was stratified into Priests, Noble, Honored and Stinkard classes. Cahokia was the capital of the Temple Mound people from around 850 to 1150 AD, during which period they aggressively expanded their civilization. Military prowess was rewarded by promotion to the next class, though that to Noble was very difficult. Stinkards were replenished from conquered peoples.

Representation of warriors show wooden armor and a sword-like weapon and too many bronze weapon heads found to be explained as modern intrusions. A sculpture from the Spiro mound in Oklahoma, the western outpost of Mississippian culture, shows a warrior that wears a helmet and armor (possibly copper) on is back and front chest, and he holds a club made from a single piece of polished stone. He wears also a short breechclout. It is possible that they also used a war club of about 60cm long and described by white traders as “gun-shaped”, with an iron projection at the bend – suggesting a very similar weapon to that used by Amerindians of the Northeastern Woodlands.

Wooden or leather shields, breast pieces, arm and leg bracelets afforded some protection.

Other weapons probably used were the long bow, slings and lances, the latter surely used in the Chunkey game that was a form of widespread Amerindian game of hoop and spear, played by the Mississippians and by the historic Choctaws and Creeks during the 18th century, as witnessed by white traders. They seem to wear painted faces with particular emphasis around the eye probably representing the falcon, a bird with a formidable hunting and killing speed of attack – and thus perhaps connected with the “Southern” or “Death” Cult. Common colors were red, black and white.

In large areas Temple Mound Buildings become associated with the Death Cult or Buzzard Cult, which bound the various Mississippian chiefdoms together. The Cult was named after one of its principal practices that was the torture-sacrifice of enemy warriors, whose severed heads would later be displayed on poles around the temple. Purification came from an emetic, the cassina-based “Black Drink”, taken “until the blood comes”.

By the time the Spanish tramped to the Mississippi, Cahokia had long been left to the weeds, so had Moundville and Etowah. Yet across the south, the European encountered numerous still extant nations of Temple Mound Builders, including the Taensa, the Cherokees, Timucuas, Coosas, Muskokees, Mobiles, Quapaws and Chickasaws. These peoples when questioned about their Mound Building ancestors seemed to know little of their predecessors, although cultural traits clearly did survive. The annual rekindling of the sacred fire, an earthly symbol of the Sun, color symbolism and the Puskita or Busk (a kind of New Year or world renewal celebration which took place when the corn ripened) were all descended from Temple Mound culture. Of them all, it was the Natchez nation who practiced the old Mississippian culture in its strongest form, complete with caste system ruled over by the Great Sun.

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