Marine Shell Spider Gorget

image of Marine shell gorget Fulton Co
Prehistoric symbols of intangible concepts

Native Americans made gorgets like this one from materials like marine shell that were not found locally and had to be obtained through trade. This object is made from marine shell from the South Atlantic Coast or the Gulf of Mexico and is engraved with the image of a spider with a cross on its back.

Gorgets are pendants that are worn on the chest and hung from a string or on a necklace. The term gorget typically refers to armor worn to protect the throat. A number of similar gorgets have been found throughout the Mississippi River Valley and in the southeastern United States. This gorget was found near Dickson Mounds and was made around A.D. 1300.

The spider was an important symbol to people of the Mississippian culture. The body of the spider forms a cross, with four groups of two legs each coming out of the body. The spider symbol was especially associated with women. It is thought that the spider symbolized weaving, fertility, the center of the earth, balance, and harmony. Archaeologists think that the cross on the reverse side is a symbol of fire, the sun, and the center of the earth, or possibly the four directions (north, south, east, and west).