Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Gerald F. Schroedl

Committee Members

Richard Jantz, Charles H. Faulkner, Gipsie Ranney, Jefferson Chapman


Aboriginal settlement systems within the lower Little Tennessee River valley in southeast Tennessee are studied through analyses of archaeological data regarding regional land use patterns, the spatial distributions of settlements, and intrasite structure. These data derive from intensive archaeological survey, regional probabilistic sampling, and excavation, conducted by The University of Tennessee between 1967 and 1981. Analyses of settlement data, representing over 12,000 years of occupation, are preceded by the definition of a settlement typology, an evaluation of the spatial structure of environmental resources, and the development of chronological models of artifact variability for recognizing temporally specific site occupations. Regional land use patterns are defined through the spatial analysis of artifacts, employing a "non-site" sampling design, from a 34,000-acre survey area. This analysis indicates a clear and continuous dichotomy in land use between alluvial valley and upland landforms that is best explained in terms of residential site maintenance versus resource extraction. Settlement patterns for each of 17 recognized cultural phases and four undesignated temporal units, dating from the Paleo-Indian to Historic period, are defined from a sample of 624 archaeological sites. These patterns are derived from site distribution data and syntheses of available information about intrasite structure and content. Evaluation of similarities and differences between phase-specific settlement patterns indicate four major diachronic trends: 1) the fluctuation of settlement intensity and distribution during the Archaic period, reflecting shifts in annual territories or ranges; 2) gradual population expansion and increased size differentiation among residential sites during the Late Archaic and Woodland periods; 3) rapid population growth, population consolidation within nucleated settlements, and the development of settlement hierarchies during the Mississippian period; and 4) settlement dispersion and eventual abandonment of the lower Little Tennessee River valley during the Historic period.


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