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In April and May, 1994, researchers with the Jeffrey L. Brown Institute of Archaeology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, conducted a Phase I archaeological survey of a 40.2 acre tract of land on Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. Owned by the State of Tennessee and being a portion of the Moccasin Bend State Mental Health Center, the study parcel was the proposed site of an outdoor drama amphitheater facility to be built and operated by Hamilton County. At the time of the survey, the study parcel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a portion of the Moccasin Bend National Register District created in 1985 to protect significant prehistoric and Civil War period archaeological sites on Moccasin Bend. Of particular importance was the inclusion in the study parcel of bivouac areas associated with a complex of Civil War gun emplacements and campsites known as Fort Whitaker, constructed by Federal troops in the fall of 1863 prior to the Battle of Lookout Mountain. While listed on the National Register, and within the boundaries of the Moccasin Bend National Historic Landmark District, the project area had not been examined by systematic surface reconnaissance in combination with sub-surface testing. Three recorded archaeological sites - 40HA134, 40HA394 and 40HA395 - were wholly or partially subsumed in the study area. Field techniques employed in the project included pedestrian survey and surface collection, structured backhoe trench excavation, metal detector scanning, systematic screened power auger coring, systematic screened 50cm-square test pit excavation, opportunistic screened lm-square test pit excavation, and other hand-excavated test excavations. In the deeply-alluviated soils of the floodplain portion of the project area, systematic auger testing and trenching by backhoe revealed scattered evidence of Native American settlement. Fire-cracked rock probably deposited in the Late Archaic period, and pottery, daub fragments, and worked flint tools associated with Woodland and/or Mississippian period occupations were recovered. While the fire-cracked rock is probably the result of accumulation of camp fires along the river over several thousand years, the pottery, flint and daub suggest the presence of sedentary occupations, that is, housesites or small villages. Isolated aboriginal artifacts are also present in the Stringers Ridge portion of the project area and in the open meadow off Moccasin Bend Road. No human remains were encountered during the testing. A systematic excavation of 50cm square, hand-excavated and screened test pits over the open meadow near the highway and extending into the ravine areas of the Stringers Ridge known as "Lilly Spring Hollow" [within 40HA395] revealed a scatter of 19th and 20th century materials. While the latter artifacts are clearly associated with a housesite in Lilly Spring Hollow occupied into the 1960s, there is also domestic debris from a mid-19th century housesite that appears on a Federal military map. Military artifacts associated with the Federal occupation of Moccasin Bend are present in small quantities despite three decades of relic collecting on the site. Nearly one hundred surface features were recorded on the main tract of the project area, the bulk of these being small excavations for tents pitched on the slopes of Stringers Ridge within and around "Lilly Spring Hollow." These tent pads represent the bivouac sites of gun crews and support infantry units camped on Moccasin Bend in October and November, 1863. In addition to tent pads, other features, including abandoned roadbeds, were also mapped. Limited excavation on some of the features associate them with the Civil War, although no intensive sub-surface testing has been conducted at this time. Additional secondary testing is required in the project area to determine the extent and condition of the aboriginal remains on the floodplain; to isolate the mid-19th century domestic component in "Lilly Spring Hollow;" and to clarify the extent of Civil War bivouac areas associated with Fort Whitaker.


Dept. of Social, Cultural, and Justice Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)




Archaeological surveying -- Tennessee -- Chattanooga; Amphitheaters -- Tennessee -- Chattanooga; Indians of North America -- Tennessee -- Antiquities; Land use -- Tennessee -- Chattanooga -- Region Planning; Chattanooga; Chattanooga, Battle of, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1863


Moccasin Bend Site (Tenn.); Chattanooga (Tenn.) -- Antiquities; Tennessee -- Antiquities

Document Type



iv, 95 leaves



Call Number

F444.C4 A43 1994


An Archaeological survey of the proposed outdoor drama Amphitheater Site, Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga, Tennessee