December 9, 2017 at Penn Museum - Megan Kassabaum, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Penn, and Assistant Curator in the American Section of the Museum:

Morning tour with Dr. Kassabaum of the new Mound Builders Exhibit.

Afternoon lecture by Dr Kassabaum: "Recent excavations at Smith Creek: exploring the Woodland-Mississippian cultural transition in Southwest Mississippi"

Moundbuilding has more than a 5000-year-long history in the American South. The new exhibit Moundbuilders: Architects of Ancient America summarizes this history. Despite long-standing interest in the origins of Mississippian society, archaeological data pertaining to the transition from Woodland to Mississippian society in the Lower Mississippi Valley have been difficult to come by. In a talk following the tour, she discussed recent results from the excavations at Smith Creek, a mound-and- plaza center in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, which suggest the occupation of the site spans these two periods. Though preliminary, she showed how their results demonstrate shifts in mound-building practices, mound summit use, domestic habitation patterns, ceramic decoration and firing technology, and agricultural crop production.

Megan Kassabaum is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology here at Penn and Assistant Curator in the American Section of the Museum.  She completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of North Carolina in 2014 and her B.A. in anthropology and philosophy at Beloit College in 2005. Her research focuses on prehistoric American Indian communities in the Lower Mississippi Valley, where she has been conducting excavations since 2006. This focus on the Native communities living along the Mississippi River developed during her childhood in St. Louis, Missouri and she has since worked on archaeological projects in Wisconsin, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Peru, and of course, throughout Mississippi, where her current research is focused. Since arriving at Penn in 2014, she has been directing the Smith Creek Archaeological Project and she recently curated an exhibit entitled Moundbuilders: Ancient Architects of North America.

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