In 1879 Edwin Curtiss set out for the wild St. Francis River
region of northeastern Arkansas to collect archaeological specimens
for the Peabody Museum. By the time Curtiss completed his fifty-six
days of Arkansas fieldwork, he had sent nearly 1,000 pottery
vessels to Cambridge and had put the Peabody on the map as the
repository of one of the world's finest collections of
Mississippian artifacts. John House brings us a lively account of
the work of this nineteenth-century fieldworker, the Native culture
he explored, and the rich legacies left by both. The result is a
vivid re-creation of the world of Indian peoples in the Mississippi
River lowlands in the last centuries before European contact. The
volume's focus is Curtiss's collection of charming and expressive
effigy vessels: earthenware bowls and bottles that incorporate
forms of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and humans, including
the Peabody's famous red-and-white head vase.
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