Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Walter E. Klippel

Committee Members

Jefferson Chapman, Michael Logan, Charles Faulkner, Tom Bell


Prehistoric man-land relationships within the uplands of the Big South Fork River valley in east-central Tennessee were studied by lithic based settlement analysis. Lithic artifact assemblages from 45 sites located within three study areas in contrasting biophysical environments were investigated. Investigations were designed to identify culturally meaningful patterning in the information content of the archaeological record and to draw inferences concerning adaptive behavior. Patterns were evaluated for the study areas, viewed holistically and synchronically, and for individual sites viewed diachronically. The analytical investigations focused on the assemblage variability present within and between the study areas and concerned variation in patterns of raw material utilization, reduction sequence technology, and technological organization.

Viewed synchronically and holistically the upland surface and upland gorge study areas exhibit similar patterning for all three sources of variability. The lack of lithic resource availability appears to be the principal factor contributing to the overall similarity. Observed differences in patterns of raw material utilization can generally be explained as a function of distance from source areas and suggest seasonal movement into the area from the west throughout prehistory. Staged biface production is the predominate pattern of lithic reduction, with a bias towards middle and late production stages. Both curated and expedient patterns of technological organization are present, with curation being indicated in the upland surface areas and expedience in the gorges. This suggests that differential patterns of utilization are likely. Selection of raw material or curation of bifacial implements are also suggested.

The earliest and most intensive utilization occurs during the Early Archaic period. The absence of dessication during the mid-Holocene. Light usage is indicated during the Late Archaic/Early Woodland periods followed by intensive utilization during the Middle Woodland period. Moderate utilization is indicated for the Late Woodland/Mississippian periods.

There appears to have been a preference for open upland surfaces as opposed to gorge rockshelters during the Early Archaic. The reverse is suggested for the Middle Woodland. A curated pattern of technological organization is suggested for the Early Archaic with a more expedient pattern being suggested for the Middle Woodland and Late Woodland/Mississippian.

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