Politics and Power
— Moundville Archaeological Park —
Unlike American society, where government and religion are largely separate, Native Mississippian political and sacred beliefs were intertwined. Archaeologists conclude that sacred symbols, engraved on stone artifacts, shell ornaments, and finely made pottery or embossed on sheet copper, linked the ruling elites with heavenly powers-supernatural beings who controlled the forces of nature, the outcome of warfare, and access to the afterlife. If followers obeyed their rulers' demands for goods and labor, they believed that their devotion would be rewarded with good fortune in both this life and the afterlife.
At Moundville, an excellent example of a powerful religious image was the Hand and Eye motif. Moundville's Rattlesnake Disk, pictured to your right offers us the best-known version, although numerous variations occur in pottery,
Stories passed down among various tribes tell of the dead entering the afterlife through an opening marked by a great warrior's hand in the sky. One account describes that hand as the constellation we know as Orion, with Orion's belt as the wrist, its fingers pointing downwards. A faint cluster of stars in the center of the palm is a portal to the Path of Souls or path to the land of the dead. Researchers speculate that the Hand and Eye represents this constellation.
After the mounds were completed, the number of people living at Moundville declined while the number of people buried at Moundville increased dramatically. Suppose the rulers convinced their people that Moundville was the most appropriate place to be buried in order to enter the portal to the Path of Souls. Imagine the power this would give the ruling elites. People might choose to do what was commanded of them to insure their passage to their ancestor's fires after they died.
Erected by the University of Alabama.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Native Americans.
Location. 33° 0.464′ N, 87° 37.877′ W. Marker is in Moundville, Alabama, in Hale County. Marker can be reached from River Bank Road, 0.3 miles west of
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mound B (within shouting distance of this marker); Earthlodge (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Politics and Power (within shouting distance of this marker); Mound Arrangement (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Perspective of Power (approx. 0.2 miles away); The CCC and Moundville (approx. ¼ mile away); Protection and the Palisade (approx. 0.3 miles away); Moundville Archaeological Park (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Moundville.
More about this marker. Another, duplicate, marker is located at the base of the mound. This lower marker can be read for those who cannot climb the mound stairs to this marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 21, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 168 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on January 21, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.