is a Mississippian culture site
on the Black Warrior River in Hale County, near the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Extensive archaeological
investigation has shown that the site was the political and ceremonial center
of a regionally organized Mississippian culture Chiefdom polity between the 11th and 16th centuries.
The archaeological park portion of the site is administered by the University of Alabama Museums
and encompasses 185 acres (75 ha), consisting of 29 platform mounds around a rectangular plaza.
Building on top of the Chief Mound
View from the Chief Mound
The walls in one section are woven matts.
The carved diorite bowl from the site depicts a crested wood duck. It is now displayed at the Jones Archaeological Museum on-site, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian since May 2010.
Chief in Training
The Vulture Effigy Bowl
Limestone, Moundville AD 1250-1500
Carved from limestone, this effigy bowl is thematically
linked to the larger and more famous “Moundville Duck Bowl”. Both vessels depict a supernatural creature
rendered by combining bird and serpent elements. Excavated by C.B. Moore in 1906, the Vulture
Bowl is a superb example of that Moundville crafting tradition that combined
functionality with representations from the natural and supernatural world. Like its green stone counterpart, the Vulture
Bowl is unique in its execution and form.
The vessel embodies a bird whose head and beak extend from the lip of
the vessel in a low arch and reunite with the vessel itself with the tip of the
beak touching the side of the bowl. The
side of this limestone bowl carries carved representations of wings. The overall effect of the bird’s bill
attached to the bowl at wing level is of a bird preening its plumage. The arched neck carries the same motifs that
are carried on the neck of the supernatural on the Duck Bowl. The tail of the avian extends from the back
of the bowl in a form that is also highly reminiscent of the more stylized, but
less expansive tail on the Duck Bowl. When
the vessel is examined from the underside, this bird’s clawed feet can be seen
emerging from in front of the tail appendage.
Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian,
Smithsonian Institute, Cat No. 170020
Copy from Moundville display and Wikipedia
with photos by Jan Riser.