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Ritual at the Mill Cove complex: realms beyond the river

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... Royal-stand out from all others along the river in terms of sheer size, frequency of human burials, and amount and diversity of exotic stone, mineral, and metal (Milanich 1994:269-270;Moore 1894aMoore , b, 1895. Portable objects of both geographic and temporal distances took on sacred value in St. Johns life, as they were rendered imperative to St. Johns ritual and social reproduction (Ashley and Rolland 2014). Participation in exchange networks enabled and fueled contacts with nearby neighbors and distant mound centers and settlements of the Early Mississippian world. ...
... Situated in the shadow of the Shields Mound is Kinzey's Knoll (Fig. 4). This ritual or special-event shell midden contains a staggering quantity and unique variety of faunal materials suggestive of feasting, and an extraordinary assortment of both seemingly domestic and ritual items that includes pottery, decorated bone pins, shell beads, and fragments of greenstone, mica, quartz, hematite, and copper (Ashley and Rolland 2014). Stone points consist of earlier curated or scavenged Archaic forms, contemporaneous arrowheads (Pinellas), and two Cahokia sidenotched points (Fig. 5). ...
... Residents of Mill Cove and Mt. Royal were consumers of foreign goods and raw materials that concluded their long travels and use lives in St. Johns mortuary or ritual contexts (Ashley 2002(Ashley , 2012Ashley and Rolland 2014). In the past, researchers typically assumed that these exotic items made their way to northeastern Florida through either down-the-line or direct trade between mound (nodal) centers, although these two mechanisms are not mutually exclusive (Brown et al. 1990;Milanich 1994:269;Payne and Scarry 1998:42-48). ...
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A large focus of Mississippian period archaeological research concerns itself with the role groups have played in the long-distance social exchange networks prevalent across the Mississippian World. The Mill Cove Complex, a Mississippian period (A.D. 900-1250) village and dual sand mound burial complex situated on the periphery of the Mississippian World in Jacksonville, Florida is one such case. The St. Johns II people living at the Mill Cove Complex had connections deep into the Mississippian southeast reaching all the way to Cahokia. Understanding the role of these unique people within the large social networks requires an examination of all archaeological material recovered from the site. The lithic assemblage from modern excavations (1999-present) is the final missing component in building this understanding. This lithic typology, based upon macroscopic and geochemical analysis, provides the final foundational set of data required for future research necessary to gain a more complete view of the St. Johns II people and their role in Mississippian long-distance social exchange. It lends insight into local community practices as well, highlighting the importance of lithic raw material in ritual use, illustrating direct connections with Cahokia based upon the presence of projectile points from the American Bottom, and demonstrating the resourcefulness of a people who overcame a lack of raw material within their geographic area through the maintenance of social networks and conservative use and maximization of procured stone resources.
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