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A map showing the extent of the Coles Creek cultural period and some important sites
Coles Creek culture is a Late Woodlandarchaeological culture in the Lower Mississippi valley in the southern United States. It followed the Troyville culture. 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 CE the formation of simple elite polities had begun. Coles Creek sites are found in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. It is considered ancestral to the Plaquemine culture.
A wattle and daub house of the type used by Native Americans 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 CE 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. 5
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 CE had begun to increase, although nowhere 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. 6
A multimound site in Adams County, Mississippi southeast of Natchez, Mississippi, with components from both the Coles Creek period (700-1000 CE) and the later Plaquemine Mississippian period (1000-1680 CE), when it was recorded in historic times as the White Apple village of the Natchez people.1
A multimound site whose main period of occupation was during the Balmoral Phase(1000-1100 CE) of the Tensas Basin and Natchez Bluffs Coles Creek chronology, located in Madison Parish, Louisiana and constructed between 700 and 1000 CE22
A large multimound site with 2 plazas and components from the Coles Creek (700–1200) and Plaquemine/Mississippian periods (1200–1541). It located in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana27 It is the type site for the Translyvania Phase of the Tensas Basin Plaquemine Mississippian chronology.
A large multimound site with components dating from 100 BCE to 700 CE. It once had the tallest mound in Louisiana at 82 feet (25 m) in height. It is located in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana in the town of Jonesville.27
^Virgil Roy Beasley III (2007). "Feasting on the Bluffs : Anna Site Excavations in the Natchez Bluffs of Mississippi". In Rees, Mark A.; Livingood, Patrick C. Plaquemine Archaeology. University of Alabama Press. p. 135.
^Schilling, Timothy (Winter 2006-2007), "Archaeology at the Mott Mounds", Newsletter of the Louisiana Archaeological Society34 (3 ed.), Louisiana Archaeological Society, pp. 8–12Check date values in: |date= (help)