Message for President Trump, Governor Bill Lee, and Tennesseans: “Hell No!!! We Won’t Go!!!”

by Tracy C. Brown

How many of you remember the sociocultural turbulence of the 1960s? I sure do because I lived through it——-all of it. College students who were against the Viet-Nam War and did not want to get drafted into the killing fields of South Viet-Nam had a slogan that was regularly shouted as they burned their U.S. Selective Service System draft cards. That slogan was:

Hell no!!! We won’t go!!!

I have a message for President Trump and Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee with regard to their plans to quickly, prematurely, and dangerously end the COVID-19 lockdown in Tennessee on May 1, 2020. This is also a message for Tennessee business owners and all the citizens of Tennessee. Listen up and listen up good:

Hell no!!! We won’t go!!!

Our family is not going to cooperate with this premature reopening. It is both stupid and dangerous to go along with this reopening madness while COVID-19 infections are still rising in Tennessee. Indeed, Tennessee is one of the worst COVID-19-infected states in the American South with nearly 10,000 recorded cases and no clear end in sight for new COVID-19 infections.

I will not be going back to work at a paying job in Tennessee. (I am officially retired now.) In addition, our family will not be doing full business as usual with retail stores, sit-down restaurants, or any other American businesses. Businesses can open their doors and post “Open” signs in their front windows if they like, but we will not be going to their places of business as customers until COVID-19 recedes significantly and it is safe to do so. That will be many, many months from now because lifting of the current lockdown in Tennessee will make COVID-19 infections climb ever higher in our state. What should have been just two more months of lockdown in Tennessee will soon turn into official reinstatement of the formal lockdown and many, many more months of home isolation and social distancing for Tennesseans. This rapid reopening madness on May 1st is destined to backfire on President Trump, Governor Lee, and all the citizens of Tennessee.

The only business we will be doing is with our grocery store (rarely), our pharmacy (rarely), and our local Dollar General Store (rarely) [near and convenient in my neighborhood], an occasional restaurant takeout or delivery meal, and a mail order firm or two like Amazon——-if we happen to need something besides food or medicine. That is what we have been doing throughout the current COVID-19 lockdown, and that is what we shall continue to do—–along with the other members of our household. We are staying in full lockdown mode.

I shall not sacrifice my life and the lives of my family members to COVID-19——-just so some greedy millionaire or billionaire business owner——like Donald Trump or Bill Lee——can hurry things up and bathe in more riches at the expense of our suffering, our lives, and the lives of our friends and neighbors. Human lives are far more important than money and material things—–always. The Holy Bible and good common sense tell us so. Just ask any of the medical personnel who are working so hard to heal COVID-19 patients at your local hospital.

Would you like to know what is really driving this lunatic rush to ignore the advice of infectious disease experts, ignore the tragic COVID-19 infection statistics, and rush on back to work and business as usual in the private sector sphere? If you are a Christian Fundamentalist or Conservative Evangelical, you probably think the driver is something Biblical because you think President Trump is The Anointed One of the Lord. You would be dead wrong about that on both counts. The main driver is a corrupt, man-made, secular philosophy that is well known in the halls of the Department of Philosophy at your local state university. That philosophy is officially known as utilitarianism. Some of this philosophy can be good, but after a certain point, it has big moral problems. You may read about this philosophy by clicking on the following safe link:

The Dangerous Morality Behind the “Open It Up” Movement

It is my sincere hope that you and your family here in Tennessee will refuse to listen to the really bad COVID-19 reopening advice from President Trump and Governor Bill Lee. In fact, my best advice would be to simply forget that those two men even exist. Instead, you need to listen to the daily advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and the rest of the medical doctors and epidemiologists on the federal COVID-19 task force. They have established a three-phase plan for safe nationwide business reopenings, and the details of that plan have been made available to American business owners and the American public. Governor Bill Lee’s hair-brained plans for early reopening of Tennessee businesses are not in compliance with these federal plans. In fact, they are far from it!!!

I believe President Trump is using Tennessee and Georgia as guinea pigs in a bizarre personal experiment aimed at determining what would happen if all American businesses were to suddenly and fully reopen right now. I suspect Governor Bill Lee and the Governor of Georgia are complicit in this bizarre experiment under behind-the-scenes political threats from President Trump. Despite any other thing he might say, deep in his heart of hearts, President Trump wants the United States fully open for business right now—and yes—I firmly believe he is willing to risk your life and the lives of your family members in a macabre state-level experiment to see if it is possible to do so. That is why he is so hot to make Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas reopen first.

President Trump’s sole major desire is to be re-elected President of the United States on November 3, 2020, even if your life and the lives of your family members must be sacrificed to achieve it. In the moral squalor of his mind and the depths of his personal selfishness, he knows that his re-election is unlikely to happen with a locked-down economy.

Please do not risk your life or the lives of your family members as part of this dumb and dumber Trumpian experiment in the premature reopening of Tennessee and American businesses. Continue your home isolation, hand washing, social distancing, mask wearing, and all other valid human health recommendations until Tennessee and the other states fully comply with the CDC reopening plans and their appropriate timing, as laid down by Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, and their team members. You will be saving your own life, the lives of your family members, and the lives of many other Tennesseans.

Which One Came First in Tennessee: The American Indian or the Flint?

Uh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h? Okay. Without getting into the famous terminological argument of flint vs. chert, the first flint (as you call it) arrived in Tennessee through purely natural geological processes many, many, many, many millions of years before the first American Indian (or Native American) arrived in Tennessee circa 11,000 B.C. (13,000 years ago).

Anything older than about 13,000 years ago crosses the line into a debate that began in the middle of the 20th century. When this debate began, it was called the Early Arrival Hypothesis vs. the Late Arrival Hypothesis. I have no idea what the Paleo-Indian archaeologists call that debate now—about 70 years later. However, the approximate 11,000 B.C. date (or thereabouts) is the latest first arrival date that is definitively known for Tennessee. The actual earliest arrival date for Tennessee is still an open question with no firmly decided upon answer. My heart has always been with the Early Arrival Hypothesis, but the hard evidence has always been—at least in my mind—a bit sparse, threadbare, and questionable to one degree or another.

I guess you can tell that Paleo-Indian archaeology in Tennessee or anywhere else is not one of my favorite subjects that I spend a lot of personal time studying or pondering. If anyone has more up-to-date Paleo-Indian information for Tennessee, please provide it in the comments.

The World Famous William M. Bass III Collection of Native American Skeletal Remains from South Dakota Is Heading Home to the High Plains

Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail message containing a bit of shocking news from a fellow archaeologist. He was passing on a message from an old friend of ours, Dr. Tony Cavender, who is an Emeritus Professor of Cultural Anthropology at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. The William M. Bass III Collection of Native American human skeletal remains, which has been housed by the Department of Anthropology at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) for the past 50 years, is leaving for the Northern High Plains in Spring 2020.

Two Native American tribes (Arikara and Mandan) will be happy to receive and rebury the skeletal remains of their ancestors. I understand why this needs to happen. However, strictly from a general scientific standpoint and my personal scientific viewpoint, it is kind of sad to see them go.

It was one of the largest Native American skeletal collections in the United States, and this collection was a tremendous nationally and internationally recognized scientific resource. Thousands of undergraduate and graduate students in physical anthropology and American archaeology cut their baby teeth in anthropological learning via this wonderful collection. Dr. Bass used elements of it to teach me and many other archaeology students the fine art of identifying and siding human skeletal remains—particularly badly fragmented remains. In addition, we learned how to determine age at time of death, sex, and stature. We also learned how to identify paleopathological lesions and how to perform standard anthropometric measurements on crania and other complete bones in this collection.

I would also like to add the fact—and it is a fact—that Dr. Bass taught us to always treat these Native American remains with gentleness and respect because the bones of each person represented the ancient loved ones of our Native American friends and neighbors. In other words, each set of human skeletal remains represented a flesh and blood person who was deeply loved and cared for by the members of their families and tribes. Long ago, tears and heartfelt human grief were associated with the death and burial of each person.

Therefore, no weird college student horseplay or careless shenanigans were ever allowed or tolerated with the elements of this skeletal collection or any other human skeletal collections in the Department of Anthropology at UTK or at the on-campus Frank H. McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture. Any shenanigans, horseplay, or failures of respect with these collections would have incurred a certain student death sentence from Dr. Death——all students understood that——and they also understood that no college student on Earth had ever tasted true death until they had experienced it at the hands of Dr. Death. Needless to say, the collections remained safe, and no students died. Dr. Bass made sure the skeletal collections at UTK were appropriately curated and cared for at all times.

You may read a short news article from the Cable News Network (CNN) about the impending departure of the William M. Bass III Collection from UTK. Please click on the following safe link:

2,000 Native American Remains, Which Sat at a University for 50 Years, Will Soon Go Home

Easy Access List——Questions Artifact Collectors Pose to Professional Archaeologists

Math

How Archaeology Is Like a Math Test

We get numerous visitors and views at the Archaeology in Tennessee blog each day of the year.  However, I have noticed that very few visitors ever read our 13 blog articles (thus far—and more to come) in our ongoing series of articles entitled Questions Artifact Collectors Pose to Professional Archaeologists. Over my past six decades, most artifact collectors and other citizens I have ever known hope for an opportunity to pose a few questions to professional archaeologists, and they hope even more to obtain a longer and better answer than what they often get. I had hoped this series of blog articles would answer some of the common questions artifact collectors and ordinary citizens on the street often ask. Perhaps you found it hard to navigate from one question to another on this blog.  If that was so, I kindly apologize and have a solution to the problem.

It occurred to me that I could make such navigation much easier for you by creating a list of the questions, stating the main subject matter of each question, and leaving you the proper hyperlinks to click on——and go immediately to whichever questions interest you. I have done that for you in the list below. Have fun—and if you think of any new questions you would like to ask, you may click on the Leave a Reply button to the left under the title of each blog article and leave a comment containing your question. You may also send a question to me by e-mail.  Just click on the Contact Button at the tops of our blog pages. Here is the list of questions and the safe hyperlinks to click:

 

Question No. 1

Archaeologists, How They Work, and Their Rectangular Artifact Curation Boxes

 

 

Question No. 2

Misunderstandings and Weird Interactions Between Professional Archaeologists and Artifact Collectors

 

 

Question No. 3

Why Archaeologists Write So Much!!!

 

 

Question No. 4

An Endless Supply of Artifacts for Artifact Collectors

 

 

Question No. 5

The Importance or Unimportance of Artifact Rescue

 

 

Question No. 6

Artifact Collector Suggestion on How to Seek Vengeance Against Professional Archaeologists

 

 

Question No. 7

How the Word “Looting” Is Actually Defined in American Archaeology

 

 

Question No. 8

A Legendary Archaeology Book

 

 

Question No. 9

Archaeology, Artifact Collecting, and Playing Social Roles

 

 

Question No. 10

Famous Archaeologists’ Con Game to Steal Artifacts from Artifact Collectors and Citizens

 

 

Question No. 11

A Few Thoughts on On-Line Artifact Collector and Treasure Hunting Forums

 

 

Question No. 12

Why Your Artifact Collector Buddy Was Arrested

 

 

Question No. 13

Some Basics on Understanding Federal/State Laws and Regulations Affecting Artifact Collecting

 

 

Question No. 14

“We Artifact Collectors are Better Quality Human Beings Than You Archaeologists: You Archaeologists Hide Most of Your Great Artifacts from the Public—but We Artifact Collectors Put our Artifacts on Display for the Public to File Through and View. Nya-Nya-Nya-Nya…..Nya.”

Next Question to be Addressed—TBA

 

An Unusual Circumstance in the History of Tennessee Archaeology

by Tracy C. Brown

Brown and Chapman II

(Left) Graduate Student Tracy Brown and (Right) Dr. Jefferson Chapman at 40MR23 in the Summer of 1977

The Archaeology in Tennessee blog presents this reminiscent blog article and the accompanying photograph as its official contribution to Tennessee Archaeology Awareness Month for September 2019.

Do you have one or more favorite subjects in Tennessee archaeology or American archaeology? I sure do. The history of Tennessee archaeology is one of my favorite subjects. To be quite honest, I never expected to have any sort of appreciable, front-and-center recognition for my small role in that history. However, on that count,  a strange circumstance and fickle fate caught me by total surprise one day between 10 and 15 years ago.

On that particular day, I was in the midst of performing archaeological research here in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and it suddenly became necessary for me to examine some items on file in the archaeology laboratory at the Frank H. McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture on the main campus of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). When I arrived at the museum, the laboratory double-doors were locked, as they always are, even when multiple people are working inside. Therefore, elsewhere in the building, it was necessary to find a museum employee who already knew me to gain quick entrance into the laboratory.

I proceeded into the laboratory, face moving forward, and continued on my business of finding and examining files. After being there quite a while, I happened to turn my head back toward the entrance doors and—much to my surprise—there it was! Someone at the museum had used a plot printer to print out a huge (4-ft X 2-ft), poster-size version of the above photograph showing Dr. Jefferson Chapman and me examining a large sherd of prehistoric pottery. This photograph was tacked to the back side of one of the laboratory entrance doors, and it remained there for many years. Dr. Chapman soon entered the laboratory that day, and I just had to ask the obvious question. Out of the thousands of 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s photographs taken during the Tellico Archaeological Project, why did the museum feel compelled to pick out that one photograph, blow it up to poster size, and tack it to a laboratory entrance door?

According to Dr. Chapman’s response, they were looking through the old Tellico Archaeological Project photographs for some university public relations event, and they suddenly noticed something important—and even a bit shocking. The field photographs for the Tellico Archaeological Project contained no clear, outward visual indication that UTK archaeologists or UTK student archaeologists were wearing or wielding anything clearly showing that UTK personnel were part of the Tellico Archaeological Project. For example, no UTK archaeologist or UTK student archaeologist appeared to have been photographed wearing a UTK tee-shirt or sweat shirt while doing archaeological fieldwork on the project. After looking through all of those old Tellico archaeology photographs, I was the only person who just happened—quite by fickle fate—to be wearing a University of Tennessee tee-shirt when doing Tellico archaeological fieldwork—and at the exact same moment when an official visitor to the site needed to take an archaeological photograph.

Solely for the history of Tennessee archaeology, let us take a closer look at the above photograph and its contents. This photograph was taken in June 1977, during the Tellico Archaeological Project. The Department of Anthropology at UTK was conducting excavations for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that summer. Our first excavations of the season were conducted (as shown in the photograph) in the Middle Woodland component at the Icehouse Bottom site (40MR23) near Vonore, Tennessee. Dr. Chapman was the Principal Investigator that summer, and Ms. Patricia Cridlebaugh was his Field Director.

The main channel of the Little Tennessee River was located approximately 31 meters to the right of the location where Dr. Chapman is standing in this photograph, and our waterscreens were operating only a few meters to the right of where Dr. Chapman is standing. I was working at the waterscreens in the late morning when an official photographer (probably from TVA, the National Park Service, or National Geographic Society) arrived at 40MR23 and wanted to photograph what we were finding. Because I was working close by, Dr. Chapman quickly asked me to come over and be part of the shot. In the photograph, Dr. Chapman and I are holding a large ceramic sherd from one of the 5-foot excavation squares in the background. It was most likely a sherd of sand-tempered Connestee series pottery dating to the Middle Woodland period. (In the old days, southeastern archaeologists used the English system of measurement rather than the metric system, and the standard southeastern excavation square measured 5 feet X 5 feet).

Now, we take a close look at the objects and people in the background of this old photograph. Please take a look at the instrument with the white legs? That was our analog transit, which was used to take horizontal and vertical measurements on our site and to maintain 3-dimentional spatial controls on our excavation work and what we were finding. The digital Total Station most archaeologists use today either did not exist in 1977, or it existed only as a very early version that was far too expensive for UTK to purchase. (Personally, I suspect Total Stations did not even exist at that time.) One of the quirks of the old analog transits involved summer heat. The instrument would get so hot under a blazing sun that it required manual recalibration several times per day to maintain the consistency and accuracy of the field measurements taken with it.

Summer of 1977 was my happiest, ever before and ever after, site excavation work in Tennessee archaeology—with one very important exception. The excavation units at 40MR23 had poison ivy growing at the ground surface on top of them. Its roots extended straight down into the soil about 46 to 71 cm. Apparently, I was the only person on the site who was allergic to poison ivy, and as a  direct result of troweling down squares, I was soon taking steroid injections and prescription pills to deal with a major-league breakout from skin contact with the poison ivy roots. All of those poison ivy block chemicals young archaeologists slather on today to prevent breakouts did not exist way back in 1977. Neither did many of the modern UV-ray blockers, which protect skin from sunburn and skin cancer.

Those thick, gray and yellow, parallel lines far in the background of this photograph are limestone rip-rap and loose, hay-covered soil to prevent soil erosion.  They are associated with Fort Loudoun, which was under archaeological excavation by Dr. Karl Kuttruff and his large field crew. Fort Loudoun was a British colonial fort built and occupied by colonial militia from South Carolina in the middle 18th century.

The one thing that rendered these 1977 Tellico excavations so much fun was the unique collection of people on our field crew. We all got along fabulously with each other, and as Patricia Cridlebaugh noted in the Acknowledgements section of her final written report on our Middle Woodland excavations at 40MR23:

My deepest appreciation goes to my field crew who daily performed professionally; often gave more than required, and worked, lived, and played together in unity and good harmony despite an oppressively hot, dry summer. To always have a crew comprised of Bob Asreen, Tracy Brown, Mona Butler, Judy Canonico, David Denny, Leslie Hickerson, Vera Mefford, S. H. Roderick, and Kathy Sarten would be the ideal. Each crew member possessed at least one skill at which he [or she] excelled; however, since a crew runs on its stomach, Sarten’s excellent culinary skills deserve special mention. Also, a very special thanks goes to Judy Canonico who worked harder than the rest of us even though she did so for room and board only.

The people (left to right) in the background of this old photograph are Vera Mefford (a UTK archaeology student wearing her authentic pith helmet), David Denny (a tall UTK archaeology graduate student who had a wonderful sense of humor), Judy Canonico (with her signature white head bandana and navy blue overalls), and probably Bob Asreen (standing next to Judy on her right and slightly behind my shirt sleeve). Patricia Cridlebaugh, Leslie Hickerson, and Mona Butler are working in excavation units somewhere farther to the right and behind me in the photograph.

Ms. Sarten and Mr. Roderick were stationed at our archaeology field camp and its archaeology field laboratory, located far away by road from 40MR23, on Highway 72S, right next to the Carson Island Baptist Church. It was an evangelical church camp with individual wooden cabins. Each cabin (and its interior overhead wasp colonies) could sleep eight archaeologists in bunk beds. The camp also had a separate, wooden kitchen building with a large, screened-in dining area and another large, separate wooden building that served as our archaeological field laboratory. Our camp also had two widely separated concrete block restroom/shower buildings, each associated with the all-male and all-female cabins. The male cabins were distributed in a straight linear pattern along an old fence line on the north side of the camp. All but one of the female cabins were distributed in a long arc behind the kitchen/dining building. The camp cook occupied a more isolated cabin right next to the kitchen/dining building.

Our Tellico field camp facilities had no air conditioning, and during one week of the 1977 field season, the temperatures (not the heat index) climbed to 100 degrees F. or more—and stayed there for several consecutive days. On one day, which was a regular fieldwork day for us, we had a recorded temperature of 107 degrees F. That was the summer Elvis Presley died. At the end of that long, hot day in the field, we sat around the tables in the dining area—baking in the late afternoon heat—eyes glazed over—staring blankly into the distance—and listening to the latest radio news reports on the death of The King of Rock and Roll. (Think archaeological zombies and The Living Dead.)

Tennessee archaeology and American archaeology students need to know something important. On some of your worst days, I know many of you quietly mumble the following question beneath your breath like so many other college archaeology students have done in the past:

Is there some sort of worthwhile life out there for me after being an archaeology student?

The members of our 1977 Tellico archaeology field crew pretty much proved that there is, but you have to be smart, focus down, and work hard to make it come true. Our Tellico camp cook (Ms. Kathy Sarten) and I got married (for 40 years now), and we both had long and successful environmental science careers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Judy Canonico went on to earn a B.S. degree in nursing and worked successfully in the healthcare field. Together, Vera Mefford and her husband (David Mefford—now deceased) started their own corporate consulting company and successfully provided values-based management and employee evaluation/improvement training to major corporations and small businesses. Mona Butler went off to The University of Texas at Austin (UTA) to get an M.A. degree in anthropology—but soon switched over to the law school at UTA. After earning her J.D. degree, she went on to become a highly successful attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. David Denny moved back to his native Virginia and became a successful businessman.

Patricia Cridlebaugh, who was a very close and dear friend of ours long after 1977 at Tellico, went on to become the first-ever woman to earn a Ph.D. degree in anthropology (archaeology concentration) at UTK. She worked happily in southeastern archaeology for a number of years, but unfortunately, “Pitty Pat” (a nickname Leslie Hickerson loved), died young from colon cancer in the very early 1990s—leaving behind her beloved dachshund named Bentley and our mutual close friends who lived near her in South Carolina—Wayne Roberts and Carol Roberts. Even now, after 30 years have passed, we all have days when we feel a bit hollow inside over losing Patricia—and would do just about anything to see her alive again. Patricia was a very special person, and those of us who knew her loved her.

Dr. Jefferson Chapman moved on to become a Research Associate Professor of anthropology at UTK, and he later became the Director of the Frank H. McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture. Under his long, wise, and dynamic leadership, the museum improved by leaps and bounds and turned into one of our nation’s best university museums. He retired in September 2019. Whoever succeeds him (be it a man or woman) will have some mighty big shoes to fill.

Unfortunately, we lost track of Leslie Hickerson, Bob Asreen, S.H. Roderick, and their accomplishments across several decades, but they were all outstanding folks,  and I feel certain they were successful in whatever they chose to do in life. Mr. Roderick no doubt retained the same placid face and stiff upper lip for which he was so famous among the members of our field crew.

Historical Lessons Learned:

(1) If you are doing archaeological fieldwork for your university, college, museum, or CRM firm and you feel that you will one day need to use fieldwork photographs for historical, marketing, public relations, or other significant purposes, make sure at least one or more members of your field crew are photographed wearing one of your university, college, museum, or corporate T-shirts on site during the excavations. Future historians of Tennessee archaeology and American archaeology will be glad you did, and that tee-shirt may even be a major clue a future archaeological historian can use to solve a problem in their research. Needless to say, it would be better if the people on your field crews are not photographed wearing tee-shirts or clothing representative of other universities, colleges, museums, or CRM firms.

(2) Students who are new to Tennessee archaeology are sometimes unaware of the fact that they and their actions are actually creating history and creating (or adding to) Historic period archaeological components. We Tellico archaeology folks contributed our own part to the Historic period component at our archaeology field camp. Our old field camp is still completely above the high water line of Tellico Lake, but all of the wooden cabins and other buildings, which in retrospect were so near and dear to us, were torn down decades ago. The field camp soon became enshrouded with massive vegetation growth. In the early 1990s, Kathy and I picked our way through some of that vegetation to see if any archaeological surface features from our old field camp still existed. All we could find was the poured concrete floor of the screened-in dining room. The vegetation was too thick to search for the concrete floors of our laboratory building and the two restroom/shower buildings. Our cabins had wooden floors poised on corner piers of rock or concrete blocks.

The members of our many Tellico archaeology field crews are now old men and women in their middle 60s and 70s—and probably a few in their 80s or dead. A couple of years ago, I kindly asked Dr. Chapman to look through the official Tellico archaeology photographs to see if he had any candid shots of the kitchen/dining building and candid shots of people in our Tellico archaeology field camp. He could not find any.  Apparently, no one ever bothered to create an official historical/archaeological record (with photographs) for our Tellico archaeology field camp. That is not surprising. When we, as young people, were working, living, and playing there, it seemed so very “ho-hum” current and unimportant.

Now that 43 years have passed us by, Tellico archaeology is seen as a major part of the so-called Second Golden Age of Tennessee Archaeology. Our old Tellico archaeology field camp, and even the nearby Carson house, which housed the Toqua field crew at one time and the Fort Loudoun field crew, are now unique and important aspects of the history of Tennessee archaeology.

All Tennessee archaeologists and historians—you and I—and especially our young folks—need to be more cognizant of the fact that we are not just passing through Tennessee history. We and our activities are creating Tennessee history and laying down new archaeological components or new portions of already existing archaeological components. In the present, we should be recording and photographing what we are doing for posterity—like we should have been doing at our Tellico archaeology field camp.

For example, do we have exterior and interior photographs and recorded information on the West End Avenue building (in Nashville) that housed the first-ever Tennessee Division of  Archaeology Office in 1972? What do we know about that office building? Was it state-owned or just rented by the state? Does the building still exist? Do we have its floor plan? Do we know which rooms were the first offices of Mack Pritchard and John Broster? I know that would have sounded so very unimportant in 1972—and perhaps even now to some. However, I can guarantee you a Tennessee archaeological historian or historical archaeologist in the year 2210 will be willing to give her eye teeth for those simple bits of information.

We who live in the historical and archaeological present need to be more mindful of recording the seemingly unimportant historical and archaeological details of the present as a gift to future Tennesseans. What seems so current, “ho-hum,” and unimportant today will be important to someone in the future.

Photograph Credit: Frank H. McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture, Tellico Archaeological Project, Tennessee Valley Authority, and whoever else took official photographs for the Tellico Archaeological Project in 1977.

Tennessee Archaeology Awareness Month 2019

September is officially Tennessee Archaeology Awareness Month (TAAM) in the Volunteer State. That month is upon us already—what a fast summer it was—and the month long celebration of Tennessee archaeology is already in full swing. My favorite aspect of the TAAM celebration is the blogfest where a Tennessee archaeologist or guest archaeology writer posts a new blog piece on Tennessee archaeology for each day in September. That is 30 blog posts plus an occasional bonus post that spills over into early October. You may visit the 2019 TAAM blogspot by clicking on the following safe link:

2019 TAAM Blogfest

Just to whet your archaeological appetite for the blogfest, Dr. Kevin  E. Smith at Middle Tennessee State University has just posted an update on his archaeological research at the Noel Cemetery in Nashville—a large Mississippian period site with huge mortuary significance. This blog piece is really excellent, and it involves some classic gumshoe archaeological detective work. You will love reading it!!!

Some additional information on TAAM 2019 and its associated activities is available at the Facebook page of the Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology (TCPA):

TCPA Facebook Page

One of those activities is a huge archaeological celebration being held at Pickett State Park in Pickett County this weekend (September 7, 2019). If you are interested in sandstone bluff shelter archaeology in Tennessee, you will want to attend this celebration and tour the new archaeology museum located near the main office for the park. This museum is in a former ranger residence house. I have yet to visit this museum, but from reading various snippets about it here and there, it sounds like a fun place to go and learn a few new things about Tennessee archaeology.

Beware: More on the Madison Tablet

Our past article entitled The Continuing Search for the Madison Tablet has been permanently deleted from the Archaeology in Tennessee blog. It now rests in oblivion. If any of you kind visitors or regular readers have ever downloaded a copy of this article to your personal computer, laptop, electronic tablet, smart phone, etc., I would kindly encourage you to destroy your copy.  I need you to do that so no person can ever find your copy and misuse it for supporting science denial, creation science/intelligent design (like that stupid Bible museum in Kentucky), or any other unscrupulous or nefarious purposes.  Just remember that I legally own the copyright to that article, and if I see you replicating (all or any part of it), using, misusing, or abusing it in any context without my written permission, you are going to court.

This message is for all artifact collectors and museums all across the United States and in foreign nations. If any person ever uses or attempts to use that article as “written proof” that the Madison Tablet is an authentic, prehistoric American Indian artifact, you need to walk away immediately and inform your fellow artifact collectors and museum personnel about the scam that someone is trying to unload on you. In the text of that article, it plainly says that the Madison Tablet may be a fake artifact. Neither is it a replica of any other prehistoric or historic artifact that has ever been deemed an authentic American Indian artifact.

We now believe that this incised limestone slab is at best some sort of weird garden rock or item of folk art that was made sometime in the 20th century—perhaps as part of a public school art class. Furthermore, it was most likely associated with one of the past Caucasian families that lived on the site where it was found during the Historic period (A.D. 1765 – 2019) in the Nashville area.