An Archaeological Survey of Big Bone Cave, Tennessee and Diachronic Patterns of Cave Utilization in the Eastern Woodlands
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Charles H. Faulkner
Walter E. Klippel, P. S. Willey
An archaeological survey of Big Bone Cave, Tennessee was conducted by the author from August 1984 to August 1985. Results of the survey indicate that while numerous historic activities, particularly the mining of saltpetre, have disturbed prehistoric deposits in the cave, evidence of aboriginal use of the cave remains intact. The nature of prehistoric remains, their context, and the radiocarbon dated period of activity are used as evidence to support the interpretation that extensive mining of selenite gypsum occurred in the cave, primarily during the Early Woodland period.
The radiocarbon age chronology from Big Bone and other similar cave sites was statistically analysed to support the evidence for a diachronically patterned use and perception of cave sites during the Late Archaic through Mississippian periods in the Eastern Woodlands. This pattern includes the use of caves as mines and quarries, places for the burial or disposal of the dead, and as ceremonial retreats. Finally, suggestions are offered for guiding future research to test and refine this pattern.
Crothers, George Martin, "An Archaeological Survey of Big Bone Cave, Tennessee and Diachronic Patterns of Cave Utilization in the Eastern Woodlands. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1987.