Spiro

Located in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, Spiro is one of America’s most important, but little known, ancient cultural and religious centers. Containing twelve mounds and a population of several thousand, it was physically unremarkable when compared to many other North American Mississippian sites. It is not the largest center ever discovered, nor did it have the biggest population. It also was not palisaded, as were the ceremonial centers of Cahokia, Moundville, and Etowah. What makes Spiro truly unique, however, is that it contained the largest assemblage of engraved, embossed, and carved objects of any presently known Mississippian site. In fact, according to James A. Brown, 90 percent of all known engraved shell and ritual artifacts come from this single site, specifically Craig Mound. The quality, quantity, and variety of works found at Spiro are staggering. Thousands of objects, created in various mediums, bear images of people, deities, deity impersonators, familiar animals, and mysterious composite creatures. They also depict events in complex pictorial narratives. Like the other regional centers, Spiro had a distinct artistic style, known as Craig. Although other regional styles, such as those found at or near Moundville, Etowah, and the Tennessee Cumberland area, are found at Spiro, the Craig style appears to be unique to this region and is likely Caddoan in origin. In fact, one specific subgrouping identified as Craig C is found only at Spiro.

Engraved shell pendant

Engraved shell pendant

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Craig style
Beaded necklace

Beaded necklace

Engraved shell gorget with human hands

Engraved shell gorget with human hands

Craig style
Engraved shell pendant

Engraved shell pendant

Earspool with bird motif

Earspool with bird motif

Human effigy vessel

Human effigy vessel

Tennessee style
Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Braden style
Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Williams plain jar

Williams plain jar

T-shaped pipe

T-shaped pipe

Assorted shell and other artifacts

Assorted shell and other artifacts

Wooden mask from Spiro

Wooden mask from Spiro

Wooden plate with copper overlay

Wooden plate with copper overlay

Spiro ceramic

Spiro ceramic

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Spiro ceramic

Spiro ceramic

Human effigy

Human effigy

Other-Than-Human-Person pipe

Other-Than-Human-Person pipe

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Craig style
Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Craig style
Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Craig style
Human face effigy mask

Human face effigy mask

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Craig style
Effigy pipe of seated male figure

Effigy pipe of seated male figure

Ceremonial mace

Ceremonial mace

Earthmother effigy pipe

Earthmother effigy pipe

Woodpecker effigy axe

Woodpecker effigy axe

Conquering warrior effigy pipe

Conquering warrior effigy pipe

Knapped and ground stone spud made of kaolin chert

Knapped and ground stone spud made of kaolin chert

Union County, IL
Turtle effigy vessel

Turtle effigy vessel

Warrior effigy pipe

Warrior effigy pipe

Earspools

Earspools

T-shaped pipe

T-shaped pipe

Engraved shell cup with human face on the shell of turtles

Engraved shell cup with human face on the shell of turtles

Textiles fragment

Textiles fragment

Monolithic axe

Monolithic axe

Mississippian
Other-Than-Human-Person effigy pipe

Other-Than-Human-Person effigy pipe

Monolithic axe

Monolithic axe

Crown-form mace

Crown-form mace

Crown-form mace

Crown-form mace

Monolithic axe

Monolithic axe

Double bowl T-shaped pipe

Double bowl T-shaped pipe

Crested bird gorget

Crested bird gorget

Long-handled spatulate celt

Long-handled spatulate celt

Bird effigy earspool

Bird effigy earspool

Eight-point star motif earspools

Eight-point star motif earspools

Earspool with cross motif

Earspool with cross motif

Fragment of engraved shell cup with image of Underwater Panther

Fragment of engraved shell cup with image of Underwater Panther

Engraved shell of figure with tattoos and earspools

Engraved shell of figure with tattoos and earspools

Human face effigy with deer antlers

Human face effigy with deer antlers

Engraved shell bead

Engraved shell bead

Human effigy mask

Human effigy mask

Engraved shell cup with depiction of Birdman

Engraved shell cup with depiction of Birdman

Human head effigy plate

Human head effigy plate

Raptor effigy earspools

Raptor effigy earspools

Repoussé plaque depicting human head with long-nosed ear ornaments

Repoussé plaque depicting human head with long-nosed ear ornaments

Long-nosed maskette ear ornaments

Long-nosed maskette ear ornaments

Engraved shell cup with long-nosed maskette on floating head

Engraved shell cup with long-nosed maskette on floating head

Tribute point

Tribute point

Grouping of Tribute points

Grouping of Tribute points

Crystal owl and feline boatstone effigy

Crystal owl and feline boatstone effigy

Crystal effigy boatstone of sphinx moth pupa

Crystal effigy boatstone of sphinx moth pupa

Crystal points

Crystal points

Assorted point types from Spiro

Assorted point types from Spiro

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Mineral Springs knife

Mineral Springs knife

Florence chert Kay knife

Florence chert Kay knife

Florence chert Kay knife

Florence chert Kay knife

Engraved shell cup

Engraved shell cup

Engraved gorget with two dancing figures holding rattles and drums

Engraved gorget with two dancing figures holding rattles and drums

Craig style
Engraved gorget with two dancing figures surrounding a pole

Engraved gorget with two dancing figures surrounding a pole

Engraved shell cup with long-nosed-god maskette on floating head

Engraved shell cup with long-nosed-god maskette on floating head

Engraved shell cup in relief

Engraved shell cup in relief

Braden style
Engraved shell cup with two supernatural figures with snake extremities dancing above a coiled snake

Engraved shell cup with two supernatural figures with snake extremities dancing above a coiled snake

Craig style
Engraved gorget with human head effigies in relief

Engraved gorget with human head effigies in relief

Craig style
Engraved shell cup depicting eagle heads

Engraved shell cup depicting eagle heads

Craig Style
Engraved shell cup depicting armadillos

Engraved shell cup depicting armadillos

Craig style
Human effigy

Human effigy

Craig style
Engraved shell gorget of human hands

Engraved shell gorget of human hands

Craig style
Engraved shell gorget with hands and spider

Engraved shell gorget with hands and spider

Craig style
Engraved shell with four winged serpents surrounding a cross-in-circle motif

Engraved shell with four winged serpents surrounding a cross-in-circle motif

Craig style
Engraved shell cup with underwater serpents

Engraved shell cup with underwater serpents

Repoussé plate of bird effigy

Repoussé plate of bird effigy