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Archaeology at Shiloh Indian Mounds, 1899-1999

Written by Paul D. Welch

Publication Year: 2006

100 years of archaeological excavations at an important American landmark.

The Shiloh Indian Mounds archaeological site, a National Historic Landmark, is a late prehistoric community within the boundaries of the Shiloh National Military Park on the banks of the Tennessee River, where one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought in April 1862. Dating between AD 1000 and 1450, the archaeological site includes at least eight mounds and more than 100 houses. It is unique in that the land has never been plowed, so visitors can walk around the area and find the collapsed remains of 800-year-old houses and the 900-meter-long palisade with bastions that protected the village in prehistoric times. Although its location within a National Park boundary has protected the area from the recent ravages of man, river bank erosion began to undermine the site in the 1970s. In the mid-1990s, Paul Welch began a four-year investigation culminating in a comprehensive report to the National Park Service on the Shiloh Indian Mounds. 
These published findings confirm that the Shiloh site was one of at least fourteen Mississippian mound sites located within a 50 km area and that Shiloh was abandoned  in approximately AD 1450. It also establishes other parameters for the Shiloh archaeological phase. This current volume is intended to make information about the first 100 years of excavations at the Shiloh site available to the archaeological community.

Paul D. Welch is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illionois University, Carbondale, and is the authro of Moundville's Economy.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book is a modified version of a report submitted to the Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) of the National Park Service. To ensure that the information about Shiloh Indian Mounds be available to the archaeological public, SEAC agreed to let me submit the report for publication. This book corrects several minor errors in the SEAC report, omits site-management recommendations ...

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1 / Introduction

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pp. 1-6

The Shiloh Indian Mounds archaeological site is a late prehistoric community within the boundary of the Shiloh National Military Park, where one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought in April 1862. The Indian Mounds site is, in its own right, a National Historic Landmark. For over a century the site has been described as having seven earthen mounds. However ...

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2 / History of Research at Shiloh Indian Mounds

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pp. 7-40

In a survey of Mississippian mound centers, Payne (1994:136) defined seven size classes ranging from “very small” to very large mound complexes such as Cahokia. In Payne’s terms, the Shiloh Indian Mounds site falls into the middle-size class, “medium-large,” by virtue of having eight mounds. Only 24 Mississippian mound centers (out of 467 in her sample) are known that ...

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3 / Artifact Typology

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pp. 41-94

The pottery and stone tool types described here are the sort of analytical constructs widely used, and widely understood, by Southeastern archaeologists. They are space-time tools, imprecise tools intended to help us discern the patterns of cultural variation across space and change over time. Though such types have proven to be useful for this purpose, they are imprecise because ...

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4 / Excavations in 1933–1934

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pp. 95-172

The most extensive excavations at Shiloh were conducted from December 1933 through March 1934. The project was one of the early instances of archaeology that was funded by a federal Relief agency (Lyon 1996:27–50). The crew for the excavation was provided by the Civil Works Administration, and though the size of the work force fluctuated it reached 118 men for several ...

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5 / Queens College Fieldwork in 1998

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pp. 173-202

Excavations in the 1930s were extensive, but the picture I could draw from them was lacking in many of the details that concern archaeologists today. The only way to acquire such details was new excavation. The park, agreeing that a “generic” picture of the occupation was not as desirable as a more specific and detailed picture, consented to have me excavate two of the house ...

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6 / Queens College Fieldwork in 1999

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pp. 203-230

For the second season of fieldwork I again tried to locate and excavate a burned house. With the first season’s efforts directed to a house near the edge of town, the second season’s attention was directed to the center of town. The reason for shifting the focus was to find out whether there were differences between households in the different parts of the site. Funding for the second ...

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7 / SEAC Fieldwork in 1999

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pp. 231-251

In discussions with staff of the Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) about the feasibility of preparing a comprehensive report on the archaeology of Shiloh Indian Mounds, it became clear that several mapping problems could most easily be addressed by the skills and technology available to SEAC personnel. Accordingly, a short field project was designed (see Anderson ...

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8 / Shiloh in Context

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pp. 252-268

An understanding of the community that built and lived at the Shiloh site requires a consideration of the neighborhood and region within which that community lived. The research at Shiloh, in particular the revised understanding of the chronology of the site, allows us to add detail to the picture presented by Gerald Smith (1977:15–24) as well as to correct several facets of ...

References Cited

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pp. 269-286


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pp. 287-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384593
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817352530

Page Count: 310
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 680620797
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Archaeology at Shiloh Indian Mounds, 1899-1999

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Subject Headings

  • Mound-builders -- Tennessee -- Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Tennessee -- Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark -- History.
  • Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark (Tenn.) -- Antiquities.
  • Indians of North America -- Tennessee -- Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark -- Antiquities.
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