Mississippian polities in the Middle Cumberland region of Tennessee
Beahm, Emily Lynne
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In the Middle Cumberland region of north-central Tennessee, close to fifty mound centers rose and fell between A.D. 1050 and 1450. Although these centers were not all occupied at the same time, their distribution within the region is quite dense. In this dissertation I examine five mound sites located on the eastern edge of the Middle Cumberland region in order to better understand the temporal and political relationships among these closely spaced polities. I conducted a detailed ceramic analysis to further refine the established ceramic chronology for the region and date each site’s occupation as specifically as possible. The mound construction and occupation dates, size and complexity of the mound sites in the sample were compared to understand to their sociopolitical relationships. I found that mound sites in the Middle Cumberland region are located at closer proximities than contemporary mound sites documented in northern Georgia. Specific landscape traits such as local resources, symbolically significant features and strategic locations for defense, trade and communication differ between mound centers, and likely affected decisions about polity center locations.