Old Town Heritage Project :: Home

Old Town stands today, as proudly as ever, showing few scars… It is a place of legend and a place of romance, a union of the traditions of yesterday and the promises of tomorrow… It is hoped that Old Town will stand for the use and happiness of generations yet unborn… Henry and Virginia Goodpasture, 1950.


The Middle Cumberland Mississippian Culture (A.D. 1050-1475)

Antiquarian Observations and Investigations at Old Town (1803-1930)

The Goodpasture Collection (ca. 1950)

Modern Archaeology at Old Town (1980-2014)

On-going and future archaeology? (2017-)


An Ancient Old Town (40WM2)

The Robinson Family, dancing at Old Town in regalia, 2016. The ancient town remains an important spiritual place for many modern Native Americans. (Photo: Kevin E. Smith).

While the historic bridge, home, and stone walls are visible reminders of the past two centuries of people who traveled and lived at Old Town, the most ancient architecture preserved here are the earthen monuments constructed by the ancestors of modern Native Americans who settled here almost a thousand years ago -- two of which are shown in the banner of the Old Town Heritage Project.

Sometime between about A.D. 1000 and 1500, ancient native peoples gathered here to construct a nearly 12-acre town -- replete with dozens of houses, places of worship, and other community buildings. While the centuries have left few remnants visible on the surface, the three most monumental of the things built during those times remind us of their presence - the two large earthen mounds to the north of the historic residence and portions of the fortified wall that surrounded and protected the town.

The links at left tell the story of the Mississippian Cultures of the Nashville area, historic observations of this ancient town, antiquarian "digging" in the mounds and graves, and modern archaeology from the 1980s onwards. Where possible, links to original documents and publications are also provided for those who want to explore in more detail this aspect of Old Town's heritage.

One of the primary goals of the Old Town Heritage Project is to synthesize for the first time all of the tidbits of information about this ancient town that are preserved in publications, notes, and museum collections across the breadth and width of the eastern United States. Despite all of those tidbits, many important questions remain unanswered -- our project is moving forward primarily with non-destructive geophysical investigations but also with some very small-scale and targeted archaeology to answer some of those questions without further significant disturbance.

Although the story of the "Old Town" starts long before "history," it is an important part of the living heritage not only of modern Native Americans, but also of us all.

Old Town Heritage Project l MTSU Box X112 l 1301 East Main Street l Murfreesboro TN 37132-0001 l oldtown@mtsu.edu
Terms of Use l Privacy Policy