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Histories of Southeastern Archaeology

Edited by Shannon Tushingham, Jane Hill, and Charles H. McNutt, with contribtuio

Publication Year: 2002

This volume provides a comprehensive, broad-based overview, including first-person accounts, of the development and conduct of archaeology in the Southeast over the past three decades.

Histories of Southeastern Archaeology originated as a symposium at the 1999 Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) organized in honor of the retirement of Charles H. McNutt following 30 years of teaching anthropology. Written for the most part by members of the first post-depression generation of southeastern archaeologists, this volume offers a window not only into the archaeological past of the United States but also into the hopes and despairs of archaeologists who worked to write that unrecorded history or to test scientific theories concerning culture.

The contributors take different approaches, each guided by experience, personality, and location, as well as by the legislation that shaped the practical conduct of archaeology in their area. Despite the state-by-state approach, there are certain common themes, such as the effect (or lack thereof) of changing theory in Americanist archaeology, the explosion of contract archaeology and its relationship to academic archaeology, goals achieved or not achieved, and the common ground of SEAC.

This book tells us how we learned what we now know about the Southeast's unwritten past. Of obvious interest to professionals and students of the field, this volume will also be sought after by historians, political scientists, amateurs, and anyone interested in the South.

Additional reviews:

"A unique publication that presents numerous historical, topical, and personal perspectives on the archaeological heritage of the Southeast."—Southeastern Archaeology

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiii

This volume has grown from seeds planted by two of my past graduate students, Jane Hill and Shannon Tushingham, who wished to organize a session at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in my honor, featuring senior scholars giving their personal views of the history of Southeastern archaeology. I made some of the initial contacts; responses were more than anyone could hope for—a real geriatric happening. ...

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Introduction: The History of Histories

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pp. xv-xviii

At the Fifty-sixth Annual Southeastern Archaeological Conference a series of papers were presented at a symposium titled “Histories of Southeastern Archaeology.” We organized this symposium to honor Charles H. McNutt, Professor Emeritus at the University of Memphis, who retired from the classroom in 1998. Dr. McNutt exerted great influence on our education, as he has with hundreds of anthropology students attending the University of Memphis ...

Part I: Topics

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1. Excerpts from “Bringing the Past Alive”: Interviews with William Haag and George Quimby

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pp. 3-12

Shortly after joining the faculty at Louisiana State University, I began to realize that LSU played a much bigger role in culture history and Works Progress Administration archaeology than was traditionally recognized by the professional community. I knew that Ford had received his undergraduate degree from LSU, that Ford and Fred Kniffen had worked together closely, that the Marksville excavation was significant in WPA history, and that Bill Haag ...

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2. Museum Paradigms and the History of Southeastern Archaeology

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pp. 13-25

Other chapters in this volume are reminiscences, personal views of the history of Southeastern archaeology from a single state or topic. The unique twists and turns along the track of knowledge are highlighted, as are the quirks and characteristics of those plotting the journey. Although such perspectives offer a remarkable intimacy, they run the danger of not seeing the forest for the trees. This chapter offers more of an aerial view; it is one way of picturing ...

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3. Forty Years of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex

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pp. 26-34

A retrospective has its inherent vantage point, and mine begins with some formative experiences at Etowah. In the summer of 1957 A. R. Kelly hired me as a crew supervisor for his ongoing excavations at Mound B. This operation was on the opposite side of a small plaza from Mound C. Here Lew Larson was conducting his own well-publicized project. Our goal for the summer was to recover ceramic collections in stratigraphic context. At the time A. R. Kelly ...

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4. Historical Archaeology in the Southeast, 1930–2000

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pp. 35-50

The Southeastern United States was arguably the nursery of modern historical archaeology in America. Some of the first systematic archeological research on historic sites and problems took place in the region during the1930s, and the Southeast remains one of the most active and diverse centers in the country for historical archaeology. We present here our personal ...

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5. Paleogeography and Geomorphology in the Lower Mississippi Valley

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pp. 51-60

Archaeology and geomorphology! Perhaps nowhere in the world other than the floodplain and delta of a major river valley are these sciences so mutually dependent. This is especially true in the dynamic natural environment of the Lower Mississippi Valley, where both sciences have advanced together to a high state. The paths have not been easy, however, and there have been setbacks. This chapter mentions some of the highlights of the last half century ...

Part II: States

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6. Some Ruminations on the Archaeology of Southeast Missouri

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pp. 63-76

To start with, where is Southeast Missouri, and why do I care to ruminate about it? This northernmost region of the Lower Mississippi River Valley lies west of the mouth of the Ohio River and south of Cape Girardeau, at the very head of the great Mississippi embayment that stretches almost

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7. Pot Hunters, Salvage, and Science in Arkansas, 1900–2000

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pp. 77-87

Dividing the history of archaeology in Arkansas into three parts seems traditional enough, but pot hunting, salvage, and scientific approaches to the past are all still with us. A woman was killed recently in Arkansas by the cave-in of a burrow she had made under a rock in a bluff shelter “looking for arrowheads,” according to a local newscast. The Arkansas Archeological Survey, with many volunteers, salvaged a great deal of information in June 1999 from a large ...

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8. Louisiana Archaeology: A Selective History

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pp. 88-98

For the purpose of this contribution I am going to exclude many of the important events and individuals who contributed to the history of Louisiana archaeology during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Those efforts have been published in considerable detail in an annotated bibliography of Louisiana Indians (Neuman and Simmons 1969), in publications on Louisiana archaeology (Haag 1971; Lyon 1996; Neuman 1984), and more recently in a ...

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9. Rediscovering Illinois: The Development of Archaeology in Illinois

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pp. 99-114

The roots of Illinois archaeology go back to the early French explorers and their notice of the Piasa pictograph at Alton as well as their rough awareness of other aboriginal remains. Of course, such notice was hardly archaeological in any strict sense. The real archaeology of the state began with settlement in the state by Anglo-Americans after the War of Independence. Travelers such as Henry Brackenridge noted “a stupendous pile of earth” in the St. Louis ...

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10. The History of Archaeology in West Virginia

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pp. 115-125

In 1963, when the state of West Virginia was one hundred years old, it published a centennial edition of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey’s yearly report (Price 1963). A history of archaeological activities in the state was prepared for this publication by Edward V. McMichael, then head of the Survey’s Section of Archeology (1963a:159–170). I have relied heavily on his work for the history of West Virginia archaeology up to 1963. I can carry the ...

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11. Virginia’s Archaeology: A Look Back and a Look Ahead

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pp. 126-135

Much of what we know about Algonkian Indian lifeways in the greater Chesapeake Bay region derives from writings of early explorers (Thomas Hariot, John White, John Smith, William Strachey, and others). There are almost no good data about Virginia’s Iroquoian and Siouan tribes other than names, and for most areas west of the Blue Ridge Mountains even these are lacking. ...

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12. North Carolina Archaeology in Historical Perspective

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pp. 136-144

Unlike the American Southwest, the Midwest, and the Southeast heartland, little archaeology was conducted in the Old North State during the nineteenth century. There were no Cliff Palace, Pueblo Bonito, Fort Ancient, Harness, and Hopewell works, no Cahokia, Moundville, Etowah, and Ocmulgee within its boundaries. Nonetheless, most of the archaeological research accomplished during this period was indeed at mound sites or cemeteries (Heye 1919; ...

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13. A History of Archaeological Research in South Carolina

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pp. 145-159

Until the last third of the twentieth century, little systematic archaeological research was conducted in South Carolina. Unlike many southern states, where professional archaeologists have been at work for upward of fifty years, the founding of modern archaeology in South Carolina dates to the 1960s. At the 1970 meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Columbia, a symposium was held on changes in archaeological knowledge across the ...

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14. Forty Years of Kentucky Archaeology or Incidents of Recent Archaeological History in a Border State: A Review

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pp. 160-171

When I first became involved in archaeology in 1959, the expenditures for all archaeology in Kentucky were probably somewhat less than $40,000, mainly for university salaries. Now it is probably conservative to estimate that that figure is somewhere between six and eight million dollars, due to changes in public policy. Unlike today, archaeology did not really exist in a very meaningful way at the end of the 1950s. ...

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15. A History of Tennessee Archaeology

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pp. 172-182

William Bartram’s observation of the substructure mound located in the Cherokee town of Citico in 1773 was the earliest suggestion of a relationship between prehistory and historic Tennessee tribes. During the next century, the description and excavation of prehistoric sites would focus on these native people and how they were related to the archaeological remains of their precontact past. ...

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16. One Hundred Years of Archaeology in Mississippi

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pp. 183-193

Twentieth-century archaeology in Mississippi got off to an excellent beginning with the excavations by Charles Peabody at the Edwards and Dorr Mounds in western Mississippi in 1901 (Peabody 1904). Not only did he recover a large collection of prehistoric and protohistoric material but also he recorded his excavations with enough precision to allow a detailed reconstruction of mound structure and stratigraphy (Belmont 1961). This project also marks the ...

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17. Alabama Archaeology in the Twentieth Century

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pp. 194-208

The area encompassed by the present state of Alabama is a diverse landscape, ranging from the Appalachian highlands in the north, to the low pine hills of the Coastal Plain, south to the marshes of Mobile Bay. In this chapter, we present a brief overview of archaeological research in Alabama through discussions of the history of archaeology in areas of the state where each of our efforts have been focused. Walthall summarizes work conducted in the ...

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18. A Personal Perspective on Georgia Archaeology at the End of the Twentieth Century

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pp. 209-218

I have no doubt that the major moments in the history of Georgia archaeology are well known to many, almost certainly to those who presently have an interest in the archaeology of the state. The descriptions by Bartram of the mounds and middens that he saw along the coast and beside the rivers of Georgia (Harper 1958); Charles C. Jones’s Antiquities of the Southern Indians (Jones 1873); the account by Cyrus Thomas of excavations at Etowah ...

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19. Florida Archaeology: A Recent History

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pp. 219-229

My own entry into archaeology dates to the late spring of 1966 when, as a junior in college, I enrolled in a University of Florida archaeological field school held at the Fort Center site in Glades County, Florida, just west of Lake Okeechobee. At the time, Florida archaeology as a field of study was quite different from what it is today. Of most note, there were literally only a handful of doctoral-level archaeologists working in Florida, and not a single Florida ...

Part III: Commentary

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20. Histories by the Archaeologist, for the Archaeologist

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pp. 233-242

Fourteen years ago, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in New Orleans, a plenary session was organized by David Dye to take stock of the history of Southeastern archaeology and its role in the development of Americanist archaeology. Several of the papers presented in that session were expanded and published in a ...

References Cited

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pp. 243-349

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pp. 351

We express our deep thanks to David Saucier for providing his father’s paper for the symposium and his manuscript for this volume. Roger Saucier completed his symposium paper, and his chapter for this book was near completion upon his untimely death. Because the symposium paper and the chapter were nearly identical, we supplemented his chapter manuscript with the ¤nal paragraphs of his presentation. We believe the result is close to what Dr. ...


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pp. 353-361


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pp. 363-384

E-ISBN-13: 9780817313647
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817311391

Page Count: 406
Publication Year: 2002

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Archaeologists -- Southern States -- Interviews.
  • Archaeologists -- Southern States -- History.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Southern States -- History.
  • Southern States -- Antiquities.
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- Antiquities.
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