Afternoon Program, January 28

Select the paper time/title to read the abstract.

Dan Brock (Tennessee Division of Archaeology)

This presentation examines pit cellars in Tennessee. Pit cellars are pits used to store food or personal items and are typically found underneath historic structures. These features are important to archaeologist for the primary contexts they provide and their ability to inform on past lifeways. Archaeological excavations in Tennessee have revealed a number of these features at a variety of sites. To synthesize previous research, a survey of previously excavated pit cellars was conducted. This study contextualizes pit cellars to determine if there were similarities between their use and design between different groups of people within the state. Patterns in pit location, morphology, content, and function are compared through time to understand how pit cellars were constructed, when and why they were used, and the ethnic identity of those who used them in Tennessee

Michaelyn Harle (Tennessee Valley Authority)
Suzanne Fisher (Tennessee Valley Authority)
Heather Heart  (Tennessee Valley Authority)

One of the pioneers of dendrochronology, Florence Hawley was employed by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the 1930s during the archaeological excavations that were conducted prior to impoundment of Norris Reservoir. Hawley’s work was one of the earliest attempts at establishing a tree-ring chronology in the southeast. While Hawley would go on to have an illustrious career in archaeology in the southwest, unfortunately, sexist attitudes would undermine her efforts in the southeast and her early work was never published. It would be decades before the scientific community realized the importance of this research both within and beyond the archaeological discipline. This paper highlights Hawley’s early research in the southeast and describes how TVA is using her early research on red cedar samples to better understand the impacts of large droughts on TVA’s operating system.

Meagan Dennison (Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc.)

This paper is an update to research presented at the 2012 CRITA meeting. At that time, Sachsen Cave Shelter had been recently excavated and analyses indicated the shelter had been occupied from the Middle and Late Archaic periods through the Woodland period. While overall concentrations of artifacts were less dense in deeper portions of the shelter’s deposits, faunal remains were especially lacking. pH analysis reflected that these sediments were more acidic than sediments near the surface, suggesting the lack of bone was due to poor preservation as opposed to site function. Since this initial research, further work was conducted to understand the chemical composition of the sediment using pXRF analysis and to take hydrology of the Cumberland Plateau into consideration. Results indicate that the lack of bone is due to poor preservation conditions associated with seasonal inundation of these lower deposits.

Richard Mooney (Independent Researcher/ESRARA

The MoonShadow Mapping Project was initiated to map details of a Tennessee petroglyph site using Terrestrial LIDAR stationed about six feet from the panel, resulting in extremely accurate geo-referenced coordinates.  These point clouds were combined with Photogrammetric point clouds taken from a distance of 6 inches from the panel to precisely locate very small, but important, features.  This combination has resulted in a Close-up Technology where selected point-to-point vector calculations were made using spherical geometry equations to relate the inscribed lines to very precise topocentric celestial positions.  The results are an independent confirmation of the successful observations made in 1997, 2006 and 2016 of the Lunar Extreme Standstill shadow alignments.   Furthermore, multiple coordinates selected along the inscribed lines which follow the Extreme shadows over time can be used to provide a statistically significant population to support an "intentionally created" argument for these intended Shadow Alignment Transient/Track Lines.

Aaron Deter-Wolf (Tennessee Division of Archaeology)
Sarah Eckhardt (California State University, Sacramento)
Jayur Mehta (Florida State University)

The Mississippian period archaeological record of the Cumberland River watershed in north-central Tennessee has attracted the attention of scholars and archaeologists for over a century. Although geographic definitions of the Middle Cumberland Region (MCR) have shifted over time, no contemporary geospatial projection of the region yet exists. In this paper we discuss the historical progression of regional boundaries, and present the first open access GIS shapefile of the MCR. Using this shapefile as a launching point for spatial and paleoenvironmental analyses, we offer several preliminary observations regarding the placement and distribution of Mississippian period sites, query the Living Blended Drought Atlas to examine patterns of environmental moisture between the tenth and fourteenth centuries CE, and discuss possible implications of that data for interpreting the trajectory of Mississippian culture in the region.

Marc Wampler (WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.)
Steve Martin (WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.)
Bridget Mohr (WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.)
Nancy Ross-Stallings (WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.)
Allison Soergel (WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.)
Hank McKelway (WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.)
Shannon Hodge (Middle Tennessee State University)

In the spring of 2020 WSP E&IS embarked on the removal and relocation of graves associated with five late 19th- early 20th- century historic cemeteries located in rural north-central Tennessee. Each cemetery was mapped using noninvasive geophysical techniques to locate unmarked burials. Archival research revealed that the decedents are associated with the local historic Odom’s Bend African American community. A total of 118 burials were excavated and removed. Human remains and artifacts within the individual graves were documented using 3D photogrammetry techniques. Significant contributions to the African American life experience in this region of rural Tennessee can be greatly enhanced through the results of these investigations. Ongoing research is focused on the health of the population through skeletal biological analysis, African American mortuary customs, and socio-economic status. A synthesis of archival research and results of osteological and artifact analysis serves to "tell the story" of this forgotten African American community.

Matthew Jorgenson (AECOM
Peter Sittig (AECOM)

The Federal Highway Administration and Tennessee Department of Transportation sponsored testing of four precontact archaeological sites along the Sequatchie Valley in Sequatchie and Bledsoe Counties in the summer of 2020. The Phase II work at these sites produced a wealth of information about precontact societies in this very under-studied area of the state. Temporally diagnostic artifacts from all Archaic and Woodland subperiods were recovered, but the bulk of materials appear to be related to Late Woodland occupation of the valley. Diagnostic ceramics, projectile points, and a wide variety of floral and faunal remains establish the context of these sites. Radiocarbon assays date the Late Woodland occupations of these sites to a roughly 200-year period between 1345 and 1172 BP (circa 600 to 800 A.D.). This presentation provides an overview of the sites and results of the 2020 work.

Joanna Klein (TerraXplorations Inc.) 
Michael Eichstaedt, (TerraXplorations Inc.)
Steven Filoromo (TerraXplorations Inc.) 

The Trinity Site (40CH210), a multicomponent site in the Middle Cumberland River Valley (MCRV), was excavated by TerraXplorations in 2020 and 2021. In an assemblage of over 22,000 artifacts, large quantities of identifiable lithics and ceramics were present across the site. Artifact analysis, in combination with geophysical and geospatial techniques, reveals a wealth of behavioral information about the site’s inhabitants. Typed projectile points possess a far greater time depth than the radiocarbon dates obtained, spanning almost seven millennia of the region’s prehistory. Typed ceramics spanned the entirety of the Woodland and Mississippian period, including many identifiable with regional cultures. These artifacts recovered combined with archaeological information at the Trinity Site can tell us about the use of the MCRV landscape by many different peoples over a vast period of time. 

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Morning Program

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Associated Events, January 27 and 28

Associated Events, January 27

2023 CRITA Program

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