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Secondary archaeological testing was undertaken by the Jeffrey L. Brown Institute of Archaeology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, at two prehistoric sites in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. The Fishing Center Site, 40HA102, and the Fairgrounds Site, 40HA233, were multi-component aboriginal occupations on the left (south) bank of the Tennessee River at about mile 468. Testing was predicated by the imminent construction of a public recreational facility known as the Tennessee Riverpark. On site 40HA102, the secondary testing was escalated into data recovery operations. Site 40HA102 evidenced occupations from the Middle Archaic to Mississippian periods, with principal habitation occurring during the Woodland DI, Mississippian I, and Mississippian III periods. A backhoe search trench revealed site stratigraphy and exposed two Archaic hearths situated near the crest and on the frontslope of an alluvial terrace. Uncorrected radiocarbon dates on the two features were 2460 B.C. and 2870 B.C., assigning them to the early portion of the Late Archaic period. When corrected after Damon et al. (1974), calendar dates of 3120 B.C. and 3610 B.C. are obtained, placing the features in the late Middle Archaic time range. Excavation of twelve hand-excavated test units ranging in size from lm by 2m to 2m by 3m provided data on horizontal and vertical distribution of cultural deposits in the core area of the 3.7 acre site. One Woodland interment was discovered during the systematic test pitting. In the final phase of site research, a 223 square meter area was stripped to expose and recover twelve Mississippian burials, one of which was radiocarbon dated to A.D. 1260, uncorrected, and A.D. 1250, corrected, nominally placing the feature in the late Mississippian II or Hiwassee Island period. In the absence of diagnostic artifacts from the Hiwassee Island period, the mortuary population and associated features is assigned to the early Mississippian III period or Dallas phase. The demographic profile of the mortuary population was skewed in favor of women. The Dallas component is interpreted as being a small satellite farming hamlet. One Woodland burial was recovered during initial testing of the site, and four more individuals (in two double interments) of probable Woodland origin were recovered from pit burial contexts during salvage operations on the site after the start of pre-construction land clearing. Several unassociated human skeletal elements were retrieved from surface and plowzone contexts, indicating prior disturbance of inhumations in the historic period. Alluviation of the site has aggraded the surface of the T1 flood levee crest on 40HA102 in excess of 1.5 meters since c. 3,000 B.C. Degradation of the T1 levee crest may also have occurred due to colluvial movements, and has demonstrably occurred by plowing and fillborrowing activities in the historic period. Because of profile truncation, Woodland III and Mississippian I and III deposits have been impacted. Multiple features, including burials, postholes and subsistence pits, were exposed in a large-area block excavation opened by stripping of the modem plowzone. Site 40HA233 was represented by stratified cultural deposits exceeding 2.5 meters in depth and ranging in date from the Woodland I to the Mississippian I neriods with the principal occupation occurring during the Woodland II period. Testing occurred near the foot of frontslope levee deposits associated with the absent T1 levee crest. No distinct cultural features were encountered in the excavation, although the small sample size (8 square meters) reduced the probability of encountering features. Artifacts from the Woodland I period are more common on 40HA233 than 40HA102. Modern ground truncation seriously impacted the southern margins of the site, and the deposits sampled in the testing program are thought to represent the margins rather than the core of the archaeological site.


Dept. of Social, Cultural, and Justice Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)




Archaeology -- Tennessee -- Hamilton County; Antiquities; Archaeology; Hamilton County (Tenn.) -- Antiquities


Hamilton County (Tenn.)

Document Type



vi, 196 leaves



Call Number

F444.C4 C68 1989


The Tennessee Riverpark excavations: Archaeological testing at sites 40HA102 and 40HA233, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee