National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Recovering Ancient Spiro: Native American Art, Ritual, and Cosmic Renewal
Published by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 2020. Introduction by Eric D. Singleton PhD and F. Kent Reilly lll.
In eastern Oklahoma, on the banks of the Arkansas River, lies one of the most important ancient sites ever identified - the Spiro Mounds.
Although they created one of the most highly-developed civilizations, the Spiroan people and their Mississippian peers are nearly forgotten in the pages of history. Explore the art, history, and singular nature of this ancient site as it rose from humble beginnings to become the most unique cultural and ceremonial center in pre-European contact North America.
The quality, quantity, and variety of items discovered at Spiro is staggering. Thousands of objects, created in many different mediums, bear images of people deities, deity impersonators, animals, and mysterious composite creatures. Together, these objects form pictorial narratives that provide critical insight into the lives of the Mississippian people.
Today's Native American communities in the American Southeast and the Plains, and possibly in Mesoamerica, are linked to Spiro through their use of similar imagery in historical works - hide paintings, ledger drawings, and tipi and shield covers - as well as in their twentieth-century paintings, sculpture, ceramics, basketry, and weavings.
The story of Spiro is not limited to the past or focused solely on art. It is reflected in the everyday lives of people today. It is a story of how religion and the environments shape us, as illustrated through community developments, religious and ceremonial activities, farming and hunting practices, and daily life. Learn how a "Little Ice Age" beginning in AD 1350 and lasting until AD 1650 may have led to the site's decline and ultimate abandonment - an environmental threat similar to one we face today.
Color illustrations, 308 pages, 9.25"x11.5" format. In conjunction with The Birmingham Museum of Art exhibit: Lost Realms of the Moundbuilders. Oct. 9,2021-Feb. 26,2022.
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