Tennessee Archaeology Network
The Central Information Source
A Tennessee Archaeology Tour
Tennessee offers many exciting opportunities for citizens and tourists to learn more about the ancient and recent past. This page focuses specifically on archaeological sites and museums with an archaeological focus.
Beginning on the Mississippi River in the west, Chucalissa and the C.H. Nash Archaeological Museum offer a recreated late prehistoric Mississippian town and exhibits focusing on the prehistory of the Mid-South. Operated by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Memphis, this National Historic Landmark offers numerous annual events. Big Ideas at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa. 30 Days of Tennessee Archaeology, Day 9.
Following Interstate 40 East, two short detours provide an opportunity to visit another two major prehistoric Native American sites: Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park and the Shiloh Indian Mounds.
About twelve miles south of I-40, Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park provides visitors with opportunities to tour the largest Middle Woodland mound site in the United States. Sauls Mound (at right) is the second tallest mound ever constructed in North America at more than eight stories. A 4500-square foot museum provides details on this National Historic Landmark and the general prehistory of Tennessee.
About fifty miles south of I-40, Shiloh Indian Mounds is located in Shiloh National Battlefield Park. From 2001-2003, a team of National Park Service archaeologists conducted the largest-scale investigation of a Mississippian mound in the last fifty years at this National Historic Landmark.
A few miles from Shiloh in Savannah, the Tennessee River Museum exhibits artifacts from the mounds including the famous Shiloh pipe, along with displays on archaeology, paleontology, the Civil War, and the influence of the river on the land, people and the heritage of the Tennessee River valley. The museum is located at 597 Main Street.
In downtown Nashville, the Tennessee State Museum houses a permanent exhibit on The First Tennesseans, including large portions of the Gates P. Thruston Collection of Vanderbilt University. The exhibition showcases the material culture of more than 15,000 years of native peoples of the state.
Only 1.5 miles off I-24, about forty miles south of Nashville in Manchester, Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park preserves the remains of one of the most beautiful and scenic prehistoric ceremonial sites in the state. The mounds and walls combine with cliffs, rivers, and waterfalls of two forks of the Duck River to produce a stunning natural and cultural setting. The park museum includes exhibits and special programs yearround.
About 20 miles east of Nashville on I-40, the City of Lebanon Museum and History Center includes permanent displays on the prehistory and history of the region. A permanent display on the Sellars Mound site, a large early Mississippian town of Wilson County, is included in the display.
Further east in Knoxville, on the campus of the University of Tennessee , the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture houses some of the state's most significant archaeological discoveries. The permanent exhibition "Archaeology and the Native Peoples of Tennessee" showcases the prehistory and early history of the state.
The agricultural campus at the University of Tennessee off Neyland Drive also includes a Late Woodland burial mound.
Images courtesy of Chucalissa, Arkansas Archeological Survey, National Park Service, Tennessee State Museum, James Miller, and the Frank H. McClung Museum.
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