Prehistoric Mortuary Practices in the Normandy Reservoir

by Tracy C. Brown

My M.A. thesis entitled Prehistoric Mortuary Patterning and Change in the Normandy Reservoir, Coffee County, Tennessee has just been scanned and uploaded to the TRACE System in the John C. Hodges Library at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). If you are interested, you may easily read it on-line or download it to your computer from TRACE. You may do the same by simply using the following link here at the blog:

TCB Thesis

A total of 127 human burials dating from the Late Archaic Ledbetter phase through the Mississippian Banks phase were recovered from sites in the Normandy Reservoir, Coffee County, Tennessee, and three nearby sites located outside the reservoir area. Formal comparative analyses of mortuary attribute states were performed on phase-level burial samples. These analyses resulted in the isolation of mortuary patterning phenomena involving body disposal; the spatial organization of burials on sites and their integration with community patterns; and the locations of burials on functionally differentiated site types within local settlement systems. In turn, these patterning phenomena were assessed for their possible social implications. The generation of detailed data on mortuary behavior for each burial-yielding phase of the Normandy prehistoric sequence allowed the development of a diachronic perspective on stability and change in local mortuary practices.

To the best of my knowledge, this thesis is still the definitive diachronic study of human mortuary practices in the southeastern Highland Rim region of Middle Tennessee. It was written 34 years ago, and I still get calls from people who need a copy for their research—most recently a request from a researcher at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

I have a hard copy master here at the house that was given to me by my thesis service in 1982.  Unfortunately, it has little snippets of text loosely Scotch-taped to numerous pages, which precludes fast-feeding the document into a copier. The numerous foldout pages have to be copied one at a time on special copier settings, and they have to be folded. The slick reflective surfaces on the photographs renders them almost entirely black even on the lightest copier setting. The acid in the paper of my copy master has yellowed and degraded the quality of the paper, and although it was stored in a dry place on a book shelf, the steel paper clips in it still managed to rust and leave large, dark, ugly rust marks on the paper.

The first time this thesis was requested by a researcher, I had to cancel a whole afternoon of my life to copy and assemble it. After that, I dreaded the thought of getting more requests for it and knew it would either cost me more afternoons of personal copying at my office or cost a small fortune for copying and assembly by a commercial copying service.  Even TRACE indicated this thesis was a real bear for them to scan and upload to their system. The original PDF file was very large (96 MB), but they managed to compress it electronically into a 10-MB file. Therefore, I was really grateful when TRACE kindly made a decision to make my thesis available electronically on the Internet.

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