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Preceded by
Baytown culture
Coles Creek culture
700 CE-1200CE
Succeeded by
Plaquemine culture

Coles Creek culture is an archaeological culture in the Lower Mississippi valley in the southern United States. The period marks a significant change in the cultural history of the area. Population increased dramatically and there is strong evidence of a growing cultural and political complexity, especially by the end of the Coles Creek sequence. Although many of the classic traits of chiefdom societies aren't yet manifested, by 1000 C.E. the formation of simple elite polities had begun. Coles Creek sites are found in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas. It is considered ancestral to the Plaquemine culture.

A map showing the extent of the Coles Creek cultural period.
Culture Yazoo Basin Phase Dates
Coles Creek Crippen Point 1050 to 1200 C.E.
Kings Crossing 900 to 1050 C.E.
Aden 800 to 900 C.E.
Bayland 700 to 800 C.E.



Typical Coles Creek features



A wattle and daub house used by American Indians during the late prehistoric period.

Although earlier cultures built mounds mainly as a part of mortuary customs, by the Coles Creek period these mounds took on a newer shape and function. Instead of being primarily for burial, mounds were constructed to support temples and other civic structures. Pyramidal mounds with flat tops and ramps were constructed, usually over successive years and with many layers. A temple or other structures, usually of wattle and daub construction, would be built on the summit of the mound. A typical Coles Creek site plan consisted of at least two and more commonly three, mounds around a central plaza. This pattern emerged in roughly 800 C.E. and continued for several hundred years. By late Coles Creek times, the site plans are often enlarged to include up to three more mounds. Sites typical of this period are Mount Nebo, Holly Bluff, Kings Crossing, and Lake Agnes. Many Coles Creek mounds were erected over earlier mortuary mounds, leading researchers to speculate that emerging elites were symbolically and physically appropriating dead ancestors to emphasize and project their own authority. [2]

Material Culture

Kings Crossing, a Coles Creek site in Warren County, Ms. Artist Herb Roe.

Long distance trade seems to have been negligible at this time, as exotic goods and trade items are rare in Coles Creek sites. There is little evidence of domesticated or cultivated plants until the end of the Coles Creek period. Acorns are a dominant food source, supplemented with persimmons, palmetto, and some starchy seeds such as maygrass. Coles Creek populations may have loosely "managed" certain plant resources in order to promote a better or more consistent food supply. Maize is found in very limited quantities, but by 1000-1200 C.E. had begun to increase, although no where near the levels it would reach in later Mississippian times. The bow and arrow was introduced in this period, although the atlatl continued to be used. Pottery styles changed during this period, as people began to create more durable wares with more diversified uses. Wet clay was tempered with particles of dry clay to prevent cracking during firing. Most pots were decorated only on the upper half, usually with designs of incised lines or impressed tool marks. Colors ranged from tan, black, brown and gray, although the rare red example is known. Also, the rare effigy pot is found. [3]

Known Coles Creek culture sites

  • Aden Site: Is the archaeological site that is the type site for the Aden phase.
  • Kings Crossing Site: Type site for the Kings Crossing phase.

See also


  1. ^ Phillips, Philip (1970). "Archaeological Survey In The Lower Yazoo Basin, Mississippi, 1945-1955". Peabody Museum, Harvard University.  
  2. ^ Kidder, Tristram (1998). R. Barry Lewis, Charles Stout. ed. Mississippian Towns and Sacred Spaces. University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0-8173-0947-0.  
  3. ^ "Troyville-Coles Creek". Louisiana prehistory. 2008-09-09.  
  • Hudson, Charles M., Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun: Hernando De Soto and the South's Ancient Chiefdoms, University of Georgia Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8203-1888-4
  • R. Barry Lewis and Charles Stout, editors., "Mississippian Towns and Sacred Spaces", University of Alabama Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8173-0947-0

External links


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