Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Lynne P. Sullivan

Committee Members

Lyle Konigsberg, Murray Marks


The Fains Island site (40JE1) is a Late Mississippian, Dallas Phase site located in Jefferson County, Tennessee. Fains Island was excavated as a Works Progress Administration project in 1934. A total of 300, mostly mound based, burial features were recovered from the site. The purpose of this study is to present bioarchaeological data from Fains Island. Analysis was conducted for the total skeletal sample (N=338) in order to assess morbidity and mortality. Analytical techniques included aspects of paleodemography (through the use of a hazard model), and paleopathology (i.e., porotic hyperostosis, dental hypoplasia, periostitis, dental caries, trauma, and other descriptive pathological conditions). Comparisons were made between skeletal indicators of stress and age and sex. In addition, correlations were performed between selected stress markers and the presence of funerary objects. The assumption was that differences in funerary treatment in death may lead to insights regarding differences in social conditions in life. Since one of the objectives of this study was to fit Fains Island into a larger regional context, comparisons were made between the findings of this analysis and other Mississippian sites.

All selected biological indicators of stress were present in varying degrees. The results of various analyses indicate some differences in the incidences of stress markers between age, sex, and funerary treatment. These differences were attributed to physiological and social role differences rather than "nutritional buffering" or social inequality. Inter-site comparisons with other Mississippian communities yielded some noteworthy differences. Incidences of periostitis were low compared to other Mississippian communities. Conversely, enamel hypoplasia rates were slightly higher than some other Mississippian communities. Nonetheless, it appears that the Fains Island's sample, located in a peripheral area away from larger multi-mound sites, was no more stress than many other Mississippian communities.

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