Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Kentucky Archaeology

Kentucky Archaeology

  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Kentucky Archaeology
    Book Description:

    Kentucky's rich archaeological heritage spans thousands of years, and the Commonwealth remains fertile ground for study of the people who inhabited the midcontinent before, during, and after European settlement. This long-awaited volume brings together the most recent research on Kentucky's prehistory and early history, presenting both an accurate descriptive and an authoritative interpretation of Kentucky's past.

    The book is arranged chronologically -- from the Ice Age to modern times, when issues of preservation and conservation have overtaken questions of identification and classification. For each time slice of Kentucky's past, the contributors describe typical communities and settlement patterns, major changes from previous cultural periods, the nature of the economy and subsistence, artifacts, the general health and characteristics of the people, and regional cultural differences.

    Sites discussed include the Green River shell mounds, the Central Kentucky Adena mounds and enclosures, Eastern Kentucky rockshelters, the important Wickliffe site at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, Fort Ancient culture villages, and the fortified towns of the Mississippian period in Western Kentucky.

    The authors draw from a wealth of unpublished material and offer the detailed insights and perspectives of specialists who have focused much of their professional careers on the scientific investigation of Kentucky's prehistory. The book's many graphic elements -- maps, artifact drawings, photographs, and village plans -- combined with a straightforward and readable text, provide a format that will appeal to the general reader as well as to students and specialists in other fields who wish to learn more about Kentucky's archaeology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5943-0
    Subjects: History, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    David L. Morgan
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Douglas W. Schwartz

    Behind any science—and central to its history—are people, individuals whose questions, ideas, experiences, and personalities informed their relentless search for knowledge. Reading this excellent new synthesis of Kentucky prehistory, I found myself thinking of the stories behind the science, of the wonderful characters who helped lay the base for what has been written here and whose lives and accomplishments contributed so greatly to our appreciation of Kentucky’s past.

    Imagine having known Constantine Rafinesque, that eccentric spirit whose scientific zeal drove him to cross the mountains in the early years of the nineteenth century to teach at the first...

    (pp. xv-xvi)
    R. Barry Lewis
    (pp. 1-20)
    R. Barry Lewis

    Kentucky has a rich archaeological heritage. It spans thousands of years, far longer than many people realize. As recently as the 1930s, this heritage was mostly unknown and unexplored, but now archaeologists know much about Kentucky’s prehistory and early history. Unfortunately, this information has yet to reach a wide audience.

    The objective of this book is to do just that. We, the authors, aim to introduce the reader to the current understanding of Kentucky’s archaeology. To achieve this aim, we have tried to strike a balance betweendescriptionof the past and itsinterpretationin human terms. The result is...

    (pp. 21-38)
    Kenneth B. Tankersley

    The first people to inhabit Kentucky were hunters and gatherers who lived at the end of the Ice Age during the Paleoindian periods (approx. 9,500 to 8,000 B.C.). They carried with them a tool kit of Old World derivation. Their archaeological remains and group mobility were unlike those of modern hunter-gatherer bands. Paleoindian bands probably moved their camps many times a year. Their camps were typically small ones, consisting of 20–50 people. Band organization was egalitarian, which means that there were no formal leaders and no social ranking or classes. Except for differences of age, sex, and personal qualities,...

    (pp. 39-78)
    Richard W. Jefferies

    For thousands of years, Kentucky and its inhabitants felt the effects of the end of the Ice Age. The landscape and the lifeways of hunter-gatherers changed greatly. Between 8,000 and 1,000 B.C., the number and average size of hunter-gatherer bands increased. The forests and streams and the animals that lived in them gradually approached the conditions that would be described thousands of years later in the first written accounts of Kentucky.

    Kentucky’s climate was not constant during these millennia. A warm, dry period, called theHypsithermal climatic interval,influenced the lives of hunter-gatherers across the midcontinent between 7,000 and 3,000...

    (pp. 79-126)
    Jimmy A. Railey

    The millennia from 1,000 B.C. to A.D. 900–1000 span several periods and well-defined archaeological cultures of the Woodland tradition. The termWoodlandcame into wide use in the 1930s in the eastern United States to describe prehistoric groups who made pottery, constructed burial mounds, and lived by hunting, gathering, and gardening (Stoltman 1978). Archaic complexes, it was thought, lacked these traits. More recent prehistoric cultures, such as Mississippian and Fort Ancient, differed from those of the Woodland periods in pottery styles and technology, platform mounds, and true agriculture.

    This chapter examines the Woodland tradition archaeology of Kentucky, viewed primarily...

    (pp. 127-160)
    R. Barry Lewis

    Between A.D. 900 and 1700, many prehistoric groups in the southeastern United States shared an agricultural economy based on the cultivation of maize, beans, squash, and other crops. Although they spoke many different languages, these groups also shared numerous symbols, decorative motifs, and styles (Brown 1985) that link them together archaeologically in the Mississippian cultural tradition. The centuries during which these societies thrived is called the Mississippi period.

    By A.D. 900 agriculture, a Mississippian hallmark, surpassed hunting and gathering as the primary economic base of prehistoric societies in the Mississippi Valley of western Kentucky (Sussenbach 1993). A.D. 1700 also marks...

    (pp. 161-182)
    William E. Sharp

    The late prehistoric groups of north-central and northeastern Kentucky are known archaeologically as the Fort Ancient tradition (fig. 6.1). Fort Ancient sites are also present in adjacent regions of southeastern Indiana, southern Ohio, and western West Virginia (Griffin 1966). These groups shared with other late prehistoric people of eastern North America an agricultural economy based on the cultivation of maize, beans, and squash. Hunting, fishing, and gathering of wild plant food resources continued to be important aspects of Fort Ancient subsistence.

    The Fort Ancient and Mississippian traditions were contemporaneous. Material culture was similar, but subtle differences in the styles and...

    (pp. 183-212)
    Kim A. McBride and W. Stephen McBride

    In the middle 1770s Euro-Americans built their first settlements in Kentucky. This is noteworthy for several reasons. First, the archaeological record of the eighteenth century is dominated by the remains of Old World settlers, most of whom were from Europe and Africa. Some Native American groups still claimed land in Kentucky, but their campsites and villages, which previously dominated the archaeology of Kentucky, ceased to exist during this period. Second, the information contained in diaries, probate records, land deeds, marriage registers, oral histories, and other documents created by these new settlers enriches and supplements the archaeological record, blending the traditional...

    (pp. 213-226)
    R. Barry Lewis and David Pollack

    We have much to learn about the archaeology of Kentucky, but the rapid destruction of archaeological sites makes it increasingly hard to do. Unless archaeologists and the public work to preserve and protect significant sites, few will remain to be studied and appreciated by future generations. Unlike endangered plants and animals, which can sometimes be nursed back from the brink of extinction, the destruction of an archaeological site is irreversible. The loss of some sites is inevitable since we must plant fields, create water reservoirs, and build houses, roads, bridges, shopping malls, and do all of the other things that...

    (pp. 227-230)
    (pp. 231-268)
    (pp. 269-270)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 271-290)