Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Walter E. Klippel

Committee Members

Charles H. Faulkner, Jefferson Chapman


It is commonly assumed by researchers that rockshelter sites functioned as limited activity sites in prehistoric settlement systems. A test of this assumption is presented which involves a rockshelter site in Middle Tennessee (Tom's Rockshelter, 40MU430). A dynamic model of settlement diversification grounded in population growth is used to derive the expectation that the character of rockshelter occupations in general became increasingly specialized through time. It is argued that an implication of this increasing specialization would be a decrease in the diversity of the material assemblages characterizing progressively later rockshelter occupations. The record of prehistoric utilization at Tom's Rockshelter is shown to span at least 5,000 years, and temporal assemblages are defined. Of greatest importance to this task are the separate analyses of projectile points and ceramics, and chronologies for these material classes are presented. The relative diversity of the temporal assemblages is explored, and is in agreement with the expectation: later material assemblages exhibit less diversity than earlier material assemblages. It is concluded that the limited activity assumption regarding rockshelter occupations is supported by the analysis.

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