Mississippian Period: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Rooster

by Tracy C. Brown

A few posts ago, I provided you with evidence that Barney the Purple Dinosaur was living during the Mississippian period and starring in portable petroglyph media at one village site in Nashville, Tennessee.  Unknown to most people in Tennessee archaeology and the archaeology of the United States, we obtained proof-positive evidence (in 1976) that showed the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Rooster was also alive and well during the Mississippian period—and hanging out just a few miles southwest of that same village site.  You may view the upper portion of the famous rooster in the PDF file below.  Please be advised that you will need to right click on the raptor image with your mouse and click the “rotate clockwise” or “rotate counterclockwise” choices so it can be viewed in its upright position.

The Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Rooster is accompanied by the separate engraved image of an unusual human head.  How did Mississippian people actually wear those “mushroom-shaped” ear plugs?   Here is your big chance to actually see one in an ear.  This is so rare and so cool:

Incised Raptor

The Human Head

If you have worked in American archaeology for any amount of time at all, many nonarchaeologists have asked you that wonderful question that has now become a cliche: “What is the biggest archaeological find you have ever made?”  This question is almost always asked with some fantastic artifact in mind.  You can forget the fact that you delineated the unique community pattern of a large village site or figured out the settlement and subsistence pattern for a whole river valley.  Many of us would still be able to answer that question with:  “All I have ever found are chert flakes, unifacial tools, a few bifaces, some pottery sherds, and a handful of charred hickory nuts.”

Fortunately, dumb luck smiled on me one afternoon when I was not even excavating on an archaeological site.  In fact, I had on clean clothes (dress shirt, slacks, regular shoes) and was merely taking a casual late afternoon exercise walk through an East Nashville residential neighborhood.  While on that walk, I stumbled quite by accident upon a very large, portable petroglyph stone with the above images engraved into its surface.

A lot of modern day mythology about this Mississippian petroglyph stone, the precise circumstances of its discovery, and its specific archaeological context has been generated and passed on by word of mouth in the avocational archaeology and artifact collector communities in the Nashville area.  One of the most repeated of these mythological elements is that the stone was originally found during digging at the site by a local 1970s artifact collector (Alvis “Buster” Holladay).  Not true—because I was the person who found it.  Another modern myth is that this 50-lb, petroglyph stone, which is an elongate trapezoid about the size of a full-sized ironing board, was found sitting upright in-situ like a Mayan stela and that it was surrounded by a half circle or full circle of radially arrayed stone box burials (all fully extended flesh inhumations) with the cervical vertebrae of every interred individual pointing towards the stela.  I say cervical vertebrae because all of the interred individuals supposedly had their heads lopped off prior to burial—and the crania were missing or replaced by some proxy object.  The upright stela and radial burial array parts of the story are not true—based on my first-hand archaeological observations on the day when this rare petroglyph stone was found.  Those things i know with certainty.  In my opinion, the notion that ALL of the crania at this site were missing at the time of burial is equally dubious.

I just needed to set the record straight on this engraved stone because a lot of this mythology has no doubt been passed on in writing or by word of mouth to professional archaeologists in the Nashville area (or elsewhere), and there is a real danger that it will end up being portrayed as gospel truth in some future issue of an archaeological journal.

In the future, I will be providing more up-to-date, accurate archaeological information on this artifact and the circumstances of its discovery.  If I should expire before that time, I have a whole file folder of information and data on it at my house.  I also have photographs and graphite rubbing images on my computer.

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