Thesis Defense Announcement

College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Melinda Martin

for the Degree of Master of Science

March 29, 2019 at 1:00 PM in Johnson Hall

Advisor: David Dye

Paths of Power: Assessing the Role of Cahokia Style Beakers

ABSTRACT: Mississippian ceramic beakers (A.D. 1050-1400), are often associated with Cahokia and the surrounding region. However, few comprehensive analysis of the spatial and temporal variations of these beakers outside of the American Bottom and Central Illinois River Valley has taken place. Recent absorbed organic residue analysis from the Cahokia region has associated these vessels with a purifying liquid known as black drink. Since this association, new evidence had emerged casting doubt on the accuracy of previous results stating to have identified black drink biomarkers in beakers. In this thesis, I suggest beakers were utilized at more locales in the Central Mississippi Valley than was previously believed and that symbolically charged beakers, with regional variants, were established by religious sodalities throughout the American Bottom, Central Mississippi Valley, and Central Illinois River Valley to establish non-kinship relationships between polities. I further suggest the beaker and black drink connection be re-evaluated and that the utilization of beakers focused on the power of sustenance to the body and soul for the strength to succeed in special life events and to travel the Path of Souls.