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

Uh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h? Okay. The title of this brief blog article was a question submitted to me by a visitor to the Archaeology in Tennessee blog. 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 earliest 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 for it—at least in my mind—has been 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.

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