Ceremonial Life


     The two middens at the site were areas where people lived, worked and played. Archaeologists did not identify any activity areas or earthworks that were set aside just for ceremonial use. However, the people buried their dead in both of the middens, and they may have had ceremonies at those times. At least 34 bodies were in Midden A. Only three burials were in Midden B. The graves were shallow pits dug into the midden. None of the individuals had artifacts buried with them.


     Based on the position of the remains, archaeologists can interpret burial practices. Some burials happened soon after death. Those people were probably living at the site when they died. Other people were living elsewhere when they passed away. Someone brought the remains to the Tchefuncte site for burial. This practice suggests the Tchefuncte site was an important place where people wanted to be buried.


     Around the world, people have often buried the dead with offerings. Sometimes, people meant for these objects to help in the afterlife. Archaeologists did not find any artifacts with the burials at the Tchefuncte site. The people may have believed they were not necessary for a happy afterlife. On the other hand, they may have felt that the midden already surrounded the bodies with the objects of daily life.


     Yellow and red pigments found at the site hint at colorful ritual life. At other times and places, American Indians used red and yellow ochre to paint artifacts and bodies. The paint may have been used in life or may have been part of preparing bodies for burial.



Archaeologists found many clay pipes at the site, like those seen above. People may have smoked them during ceremonies or used them in healing rituals. Smoking also may have been a leisure activity at the end of the day.

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