An introduction to the Mississippian Birdman expands our understanding of the life and times of pre-Columbian Mississippians
Mike’s promises, of an in-depth introduction to the Mississippian Complex were fulfilled.
He introduced his audience to the exotic symbolism of the Birdman religion underscoring its
elements from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as well as earlier North American cultures i.e. the
Adena and Hopewell. Birdman’s evolution as a major deity in North America goes back to the B.C.
According to Mike despite the fact that the Mississippian civilization lasted for 500 years in the heartland of America, this is the least studied culture in academia. Only now are scholars beginning to do serious research into this civilization as a whole. While there are many books and research articles on Cahokia, Moundville, Etowah, and Spiro among other major Mississippian sites, the study of the civilization as a
Clues to the Mississippian have been found in artistic expression. The iconography of the Birdman complex has a rich artistic presence by way of widespread copper works detailing the divinity across
a large swath of America. Mississippian artisans had developed considerable skill and technology of copper metallurgy using placer copper.
The Birdman is also found on shell work across the same area in the form of incised gorgets and on whelk shells imported from the Gulf of Mexico.
Mike concluded with an observation that study of the Birdman, on the whole has produced only a few notable books. But he shared his optimism that as this field becomes more popular, there will be a new flood of research in this area.