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These include middens (39), structures (129), pit features (356), palisades or portions of palisades (26) and historic homesteads (13).While resources were identified across the island (both prehistoric and historic), data collected from the previously identified Mississippian component on the island was included some of the more exciting finds associated with the project.A majority of the public land managed by TVA is located along the Tennessee River and its tributaries where people have been settling for thousands of years.The task of completing TVA’s inventory while simultaneously evaluating and ensuring the protection of these many thousands of sites has been incredibly challenging.Labor for this effort was provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).The focus of the excavation was on the Mississippian Village located on the north end of the island.An archaeological field school conducted between 1997-1999 assessed the extent of intact deposits along the shoreline as justification for stabilization to protect eroding features.While both of these efforts provided data to indicate the potential for remaining significant archaeological deposits, no comprehensive assessment of the island was made until 2015.
This methodology will allow the agency to evaluate and protect these resources without having to face large amounts of new archaeological collections or impact sensitive features such as burials. Non-invasive technology allows archaeologists to collect sufficient data to limit our need for extensive excavations, so we are doing archaeology smarter and protecting these resources for many generations to come.
Repositories are running low on space, and federal agencies are struggling to pay for long term curation costs and material continues to come in.