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Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès (Toulouse II-le Mirail)

Prehistory of the Southern Appalachian uplands of Tennessee / Jay Franklin


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Prehistory of the Southern Appalachian uplands of Tennessee / Jay Franklin

Prehistory of the Southern Appalachian uplands of Tennessee. Jay FRANKLIN. In "La construction des territoires montagnards : exploitation des ressources et mobilité des pratiques", 2e International Workshop on archaeology of european mountain landscape, organisé par les laboratoires GEODE, FRAMESPA, GEOLAB et Chrono-Environnement. Université Toulouse 2-Le Mirail, 8-11 octobre 2009. [seconde journée]

Upland and highland regions are often characterized as marginal zones occupied by peoples more out of necessity than preference. This characterization has its origins not in the archaeological record but rather in folk assumptions that are largely untested. I discuss 13 years of archaeological investigations in the Southern Appalachian uplands of Tennessee, USA, with particular focus on the Upper Cumberland Plateau. This research indicates that upland zones were not marginal zones at all, but rather vibrant regions with unique and complex cultural adaptations and historical trajectories. The Upper Cumberland Plateau landscape is dominated by rock shelters and caves. These geologic features are often thought of by scholars as special purpose site locations. However, my research indicates that rock shelter and caves in this region were used for many purposes by prehistoric peoples, including intensive and long term habitation. I demonstrate that rock shelters and caves on the Upper Cumberland Plateau were as much a part of the cultural landscape as the natural landscape. In fact, the two are intertwined. Traditional thinking suggests that these upland regions served as resource exploitation zones by peoples living in lowland areas, e. g. river valleys, during certain times of the year. However, my work strongly suggests that this is not the case. Certainly by at least 5000 years ago, the Upper Cumberland Plateau was occupied year-round by prehistoric peoples. This fact has important implications for traditional mobility pattern models suggesting movement between lowlands and uplands. My research suggests mobility patterns within the uplands themselves by peoples who lived here year round.

 

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