Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Peacock, Evan

Committee Member

Hardin, James W.

Committee Member

Miller, D. Shane

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Applied Anthropology

Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures


The cultural significance of effigy pipes among southeastern groups during the Mississippian period (A.D. 1000-1600) has yet to be fully understood. Recent studies, however, have provided new archaeological contexts for framing explanations of their possible use and distribution among such groups. Apart from conjectures about their use as ceremonial objects, selection for effigy pipes in the Mississippian Southeast was directly related to fluctuating environmental and demographic conditions under which such objects were manufactured and distributed. These conditions provided the appropriate context for their emergence as costly signaling devices through which elite or special interest groups advertised fitness levels, typically expressed in displays of power and prestige. As signaling devices, effigy pipes attained their widest distribution in the Southeast during a time of environmental and demographic stability. Their decline was primarily the result of increasing climatic instability and widespread demographic upheaval--events that precipitated major disruptions in commercial and economic relations.



costly signaling||effigy pipes||Mississippian period