AD 1200 to early 1500s

The Mississippian in South Carolina is called the “South Appalachian Mississippian” and is a regional variant of the culture which lived along the Mississippi River drainage area. The South Appalachian Mississippian includes cultures in South Carolina, Georgia, and portions of Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Duringthis period, cultures developed what anthropologists call achiefdom-level society; one with a defined ruling class and ranked lower classes under them.

Villages became permanent and territorialboundaries were better defined and defended. Walled villages were common. Some larger sites enclosed earthen platform mounds and werecenters of an elite ruling class. In coastal South Carolina, villages were often located along inland river valleys and had a strong dependence on coastal resources. Subsistence included hunting, fishing, plant and shellfish gathering, and agriculture.

Objects found in some settlements suggest there may have been an influence from the Mississippian centers further inland, perhaps even stretching into Mesoamerica. Late in this period there was social instability. Walls todefend villages became more common, and by the mid 1300s, some larger settlements were abandoned. Smaller villages took their place. This period of cultural decline began as much as a century before Europeans first made contact.