Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


One of the most unique and artistic artifacts found throughout the eastern United States is the engraved shell gorget. During late prehistoric and protohistoric times many of these gorgets were transported from the Southeast, where they were associated with the Mississippian Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, into Fort Ancient territory.

Engraved shell gorgets can be traced to their region of origin, indicating prehistoric trade networks that were in place throughout the eastern United States. In addition, the gorgets can serve as temporal markers to order late prehistoric and protohistoric Fort Ancient sites in time.

Shell gorgets are found mainly in a burial context. In their home territory, rattlesnake gorgets were found primarily with adult females and subadults, probably of high rank. In contrast, the mask gorget was primarily associated with males and subadults. A study of burial associations at Fort Ancient sites should reveal the similarities in the way the gorgets were perceived, and shed some light on their function and significance, both in their original context and as trade items.


Fort Ancient culture.

Ohio River Valley – Antiquities.