Christina Friberg

Graduate Student


  • Culture Contact
  • Archaeology of the American Midwest and Southeast
  • Mississippian societies (A.D. 1050-1400)
  • Archaeology of religion, cosmology, and iconography
  • Craft production and archaeologies of materiality


In Progress      Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara
2013                M.A. in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara
2006                A.B. in Anthropology, Vassar College


My research interests include the relationship between ethnogenesis, gender, craft production, and long-distance exchange in the contexts of culture contact scenarios, with a focus on Cahokia and its northern hinterland. I am also interested in the religious practices and iconography of Mississippian cultural groups and the implications that variations in these practices have for understanding social and cultural relationships within and between groups. I employ a rigorous set of laboratory and statistical analyses for generating cross cultural comparative data patterns. When these patterns are interpreted through theoretical frameworks of entanglement, materiality, and practice theory, we link data to lived experience to paint a picture of how different communities fit within these largescale cultural phenomena. My methodological skills include archaeosurveying, topographical and spatial analysis, magnetic (gradiometry) and soil resistivity surveys, X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry in shell sourcing, Reflectance Transformation Imaging for analysis of ceramic design motifs, and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).



My current research investigates changing identities and ideologies during the Woodland to Mississippian transition in the Midsouth and Midwest through a comparative stylistic and iconographic analysis of decorated pottery vessels from Cahokia and its northern hinterlands. I have also worked on many projects on St. Catherines Island, GA with the Nels Nelson North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History from 2006 - 2011.



Cahokian Influence and Local Innovation: A Perspective from the Neighboring Lower Illinois River Valley
NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award (#1614379): Cultural Interaction In Hierarchical Contexts

The goal of the project is to assess Cahokia’s pan-regional influence, its implications for the negotiation of new identities and daily practices, and how the process of Mississippianization unfolded in the Lower Illinois River Valley (LIRV) of west-central Illinois. Additionally, this research highlights the negotiation of culture contact as a complex process whereby local peoples do not passively adopt the practices of a more powerful core polity, but engage, or resist engagement, in the active entanglement of new and local practices in reference to their own identities.

The LIRV, located on Cahokia’s immediate northern periphery is well suited to this investigation of the Mississippianization process. The late 11th century and early 12th century Audrey site village (11Ge20) was targeted for excavation and analysis in order to determine (1) the inhabitants’ social, political, and economic relationships with Cahokians and (2) how the LIRV’s regional culture contact dynamic differed from that of other hinterland regions further north. This will be accomplished through an analysis and interregional comparison of craft production and exchange (political and economic interaction) in addition to household and community organization (daily practices) at the Audrey site. Analysis is ongoing.