Cherokee Prehistory

The Pisgah Phase in the Appalachian Summit Region

  • Author(s): Dickens, Roy S., Jr.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 0000-00-00
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $31.00 | Buy Now

After a century of archaeological research in the Southeastern United States, there are still areas about which little is known. Surprisingly, one of these areas in the Appalachian Summit, which in historic times was inhabited by the Cherokee people whose rich culture and wide influence made their name commonplace in typifying Southeastern Indians. The culture of the people who preceded the historic Cherokees was no less rich, and their network of relationships with other groups no less wide. Until recently, however, the prehistoric cultural remains of the Southern Appalachians had received only slight attention.

Archaeological sites in the Appalachians usually do not stand out dramatically on the landscape as do the effigy mounds of the Ohio Valley and the massive platform mounds of the Southeastern Piedmont and Mississippi Valley. Prehistoric settlements in the Southern Appalachians lay in the bottomlands along the clear, rocky rivers, hidden in the folds of the mountains. Finding and investigating these sites required a systematic approach. From 1964 to 1971, under the direction of Joffre L. Coe, the Research Laboratories of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, conducted an archaeological project that was designed to investigate the antecedents of the historic Cherokees in the Appalachian Summit, and included site surveys over large portions of the area and concentrated excavations at several important sites in the vicinity of the historic Cherokee Middletowns.

One result of the Cherokee project is this book, the purpose of which is to present an initial description and synthesis of a late prehistoric phase in the Appalachian Summit, a phase that lasted from the beginnings of South Appalachian Mississippian culture to the emergence of identifiable Cherokee culture. At various points Professor Dickens draws these data into the broader picture of Southeastern prehistory, and occasionally presents some interpretations of the human behavior behind the material remains, however, is to make available some new information on a previously unexplored area. Through this presentation Cherokee Prehistory helps to provide a first step to approaching, in specific ways, the problems of cultural process and systemics in the aboriginal Southeast.

Roy S. Dickens, Jr., is associate professor of anthropology and director of the Laboratory of Archaeology at Georgia State University.