Morning Program

January 27, 2024

Select the paper time/title to read the abstract.

9:00 AM - Greeting

Phil Hodge, State Archaeologist and Director, Tennessee Division of Archaeology

Kevin E. Smith (Middle Tennessee State University)
David H. Dye (University of Memphis)

In 1939, workers constructing the “Shelby County Negro Park” (Tennessee’s first African-American public park) uncovered Mississippian mounds that would eventually become the first Tennessee archaeological park. Tom Lewis and Charles Nash would quickly become involved in plans to create a “wayside park” using Works Progress Administration labor. World War II changed the timeline drastically, shifting it to the 1950s when Charles Nash would become the first “State Parks Archaeologist” in charge of developing the “Fuller Mounds.” The fortuitous timing also coincided with the beginnings of a significant migration of Choctaw from Mississippi to West Tennessee – providing the opportunity for a complicated but beneficial partnership between members of the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw and state archaeologists.

Kevin E. Smith (Middle Tennessee State University)

Bob Ferguson’s relationship with the Mississippi Choctaw began at Chucalissa in the 1950s when he was employed to create films for Tennessee State Parks. After his move to Nashville, he would film “The World Outdoors” – an award-winning series on conservation that inspired Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Bob also created the Southeastern Indian Antiquities Survey (now known as the Middle Cumberland Archaeological Society) to save archaeological sites being destroyed by the “progress” of Nashville. While Mound Bottom was ultimately preserved by state purchase, Bob’s dreams of a Nashville Indian Cultural Center remain unfulfilled.

James N. Greene (TRC Environmental Corporation)
Krista Jordan-Greene (TRC Environmental Corporation)

TRC Environmental Corporation was contracted by the Andrew Jackson Foundation to provide archaeological services for pathway improvements at The Hermitage and renovations at Andrew Jackson Donelson’s Tulip Grove mansion. Documented features included a potential footer associated with Rachael’s grave house at the Hermitage, and Tulip Grove’s detached kitchen and associated brick kiln. This is the first archaeological investigation conducted at Tulip Grove. Excavations at Tulip Grove are ongoing and began with a geophysical survey by Horsley Archaeological Prospection, LLC.

Lacey S. Fleming (HNTB Corporation)

Shell middens are a worldwide archaeological phenomenon. In the Middle and Late Archaic periods (ca. 8900 - 5800 and 5800 - 3200 cal BP), the Indigenous inhabitants of what is now Middle Tennessee deposited mollusk shells at specific locations in the Middle Cumberland River Valley, forming significant accumulations that survive to the present day. The shells of freshwater mussel and snail taxa are found in these middens. Many archaeological interpretations have examined cultural practices around the creation and use of shell middens, but the fascinating life cycles of these animals are far less frequently addressed by research. Mussels have particularly complex reproductive processes including a larval period in which a parasitic relationship is formed with one or several host fish species. This paper will serve as a starting point for an exploration of the relationships between shellfish, fish, and humans during the Archaic period in the Middle Cumberland River Valley.

Paul Dudley (State of Tennessee)

This presentation will cover the State of Tennessee’s geospatial data available to the archaeology community and the public. The statewide LiDAR elevation program will be highlighted with an overview, resources, and an outline of available data products. Additionally, several archaeological use cases will be provided.

10:20-10:40 AM BREAK

Audrey Lauerhass (Middle Tennessee State University)
 Adam Fracchia (Metro Nashville Historical Commission)

The Sunnyside Mansion, located in Sevier Park in south Nashville, was built in 1852. During the Battle of Nashville on December 15th, 1864, the house and property were used as a forward defensive position by the Confederate Army and saw heavy fighting. Recent renovation of the property, which now serves as the offices for the Metropolitan Historical Commission, uncovered evidence of this engagement. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department was able to document this battle damage using traditional forensic methods and new technology like LIDAR, drone digital images, and software technologies. Using GIS, the bullet trajectory data was used to determine the potential location of the Union forces as they advanced south toward the main Confederate line. Although poorly documented historically, the spatial mapping, in combination with recent archaeological investigations, provides a clearer picture of the events of December 15th, and this pivotal battle of the American Civil War.

Alison Damick (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Brooke Persons (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)

The Almira Steele Orphanage in Chattanooga served over 1600 children between 1884 and 1925, and was historically unique in that it was the only orphanage in the area at the time that provided for children who were Black, disabled, diseased, or over the age of 10. The footprint of this orphanage has been identified using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) on the site of a proposed University of Tennessee development on its Chattanooga campus. This paper reports on the ongoing work to document this important part of the heritage and history of historic Black Chattanooga ahead of development, including collaborating with the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and others in the community as part of the process.

Sierra M. Bow (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Jan F. Simek (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

This study adopts an experimental archaeological approach to investigate the composition of paints used during the Mississippian period. Through practical experimentation, multiple ingredients are explored, and non-destructive analytical methods are utilized to assess the accuracy and reliability of ingredient identification. This research not only sheds light on the artistic practices of this era but also highlights the effectiveness of modern analytical techniques in uncovering and understanding ancient materials. The combination of experimental reconstruction and advanced analysis contributes significantly to our broader comprehension of the cultural aspects of the Mississippian period in the Southeastern United States.

Morgan Smith (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)
Andrew VanSlyke (National Park Service Submerged Resources Center)
Hunter Whitehead (SEARCH Inc.)
Sam Fuller (United States Army)

In November 1863, the steamship Chattanooga played a surprisingly important role in the history of the United States. This hastily built steamship broke the Confederate blockade of Chattanooga, resupplying General Ulysses Grant's army, and precipitating a further southward push of Union forces into the American South. Local lore holds that steamship wreckage located on the north bank of the Tennessee River, adjacent to the Market Street Bridge in downtown Chattanooga, is the remains of this Civil War shipwreck. This presentation evaluates the evidence for this claim.

Richard R. Jones (Lee University)
Joseph Gamble (Fort Loudoun State Park)

Report on the Phase I Survey of the McGhee-Carson Plantation site at Fort Loudoun State Park. The survey mapped and documented major features of the site and determined the site boundaries. This work was done to assist and to facilitate management of the State Park's cultural resources and to document the current condition of features at the site.

11:55 AM - 1:30 PM LUNCH

Venue and Area Information

About the Venue and Dining Options

Afternoon Program

Abstracts of afternoon papers

Associated Events

Associated Events

2024 CRITA Program

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