Welcome to the Archaeology in Tennessee blog. In ancient Tennessee, after a long, difficult, and dangerous hunt for a very uncooperative mastodon, the tired but successful hunters returned home to their camp with meat. The women and children would throw in the herbaceous gatherings of the day and cook a feast for “the people,” who were small in number and all related to each other by blood or marriage in a hunter-gatherer band. All the kin drew close to the evening campfire, enjoyed their food, told tales of the hunt, marveled at the day’s mischief of the children, considered serious subjects, told jokes, laughed a lot, and felt closer to those they loved. The campfire was more than just heat, light, and a reminder of the power residing in the above world. It held the people together and strengthened their social bonds. In our fast-moving 21st century American society, we have lost the campfire and wounded ourselves in the process. For those who love Tennessee archaeology or archaeology in general, this blog is one small attempt to reignite the lost campfire. I encourage you to view this blog as a new campfire we can all gather around to talk about Tennessee archaeology and various other subjects.
Professional archaeologists may visit this blog and post comments at any time. The participation of museum management and staff is also very much encouraged. Management and employees of CRM consulting firms may draw near to the fire and warm their aching muscles and bones. Federal, state, and local government archaeologists are free to post comments here as well. Public and private school teachers with an interest in Tennessee archaeology are always welcome. In addition, this blog is open to the general public because most of the archaeological work done in the United States on any given day is supported by federal, state, and local tax dollars paid by ordinary citizens like you and me. I hope you will glean some archaeological knowledge from the posts on this blog and feel that those tax dollars are well spent.
Although I have been a regular poster at numerous other blogs for many years, this is my first attempt at setting up and managing my own blog. Simultaneously, the prospect fills me with hope and trepidation. The spaces behind my ears are admittedly wet. Because of this, some mistakes will no doubt be made along the way. One of my reasons for trepidation is my realization that some people with an interest in Tennessee archaeology do not get along with each other. I dislike conflict and am quite likely one of the least talented at managing it. Nonetheless, some behavioral ground rules will be set for all blog visitors (see Blog Policy). It is my earnest hope that everyone who visits the blog will try to be civil and on their best behavior with their neighbor—even if they do not like their neighbor. Give the campfire a chance to work its magic as it did in ancient times.
For my part in this, I plan to post a lead article or note as often as possible. To give this new blog a chance to become popular and maintain reader interest, a daily post from me would be best. However, I have a family and a very demanding job that both require my full attention on some evenings and weekends, which may adversely affect the frequency of my posts to the blog.
Although the primary subject matter of this blog is Archaeology in Tennessee, it is by no means limited to this subject. Many other subjects are arguably tangential to it: cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, linguistics, environmental science, geophysics, geology, paleontology, American history, Tennessee history, historic preservation, cultural resource management, biological evolution, government statutes and regulations, American politics, constitutional rights, and many other related subjects. In addition, I very kindly invite the readers of this blog to submit to me any brief statements, thoughts, or public announcements that you might like to broadcast on my blog. If I like what you have to say, I would be glad on occasion to relinquish my lead post for the day and substitute your original post in its place. However, please remember that the choice to post it or not post it is mine.
Finally, a few words need to be said about blogging, archaeology, and having fun. In their book entitled Method and Theory in American Archaeology, Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips (1958:2) famously remarked that “American archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing.” I have never been fully comfortable with that assertion and have always wondered whether it was more Willey or Phillips. If you have ever read any works by Phil Phillips, his innate sense of playfulness often dances out from between the lines. Therefore, I wonder if he might agree with me in expressing the opinion that “American archaeology is fun or it is nothing.” For my part in it, this is not just a blog about Tennessee archaeology. It is also my personal blog, and I intend to have some good-natured fun commensurate with my sometimes irrelevant, irreverent, and spontaneously witty nature. I hope the occasional all-too-serious and stone-faced person in the world of American archaeology can adjust to it, tolerate it, and maybe even learn to smile.