“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Shiloh in Hardin County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Sifting the Evidence

Sifting the Evidence image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Sandra Hughes, September 1, 2009
1. Sifting the Evidence
Inscription.  Archeologists are like detectives. They gather evidence, look for clues, and make educated assumptions. The people who lived here did not leave behind any written records. But they did leave earthen mounds, pieces of pottery, stone tools, bits of mica, and other artifacts.

Archeologists look at this evidence piece by piece and compare it with what has been found at other American Indian sites. Gradually, they develop the story of everyday life at Shiloh Indian Mounds-a saga that continues to unfold as investigative techniques improve.

Drawing Conclusions
Most of what we know about this ancient community comes from archeological excavations in 1899, the 1930s, 1970s, and in recent years. Today, all archeological research in the park is done in consultation with the Chickasaw Nation. The object is to get maximum amount of information with the least amount of disturbance. Here are three examples of how archeologists arrived at certain conclusions-which, of course, can change with new evidence.

A Line of Holes
Archeologists uncovered one posthole after another. They staked the holes and realized they formed

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a semicircular fence line on the northern and western sides of the townsite opposite the Tennessee River. Wooden walls would have rotted within a few years, requiring replacement, but the palisade was built only once. This community must have been peaceful most of the time.

An Unusual Game Piece
Over the years archeologists discovered several small, stone disks in various places in the settlement. They knew, from accounts written by European explorers and settlers, that southeastern American Indians played a game called chunkey with such stones. One chunkey stone, found in the 1930s on the north side of the town's plaza, was made of coquina shell (far left). This kind of stone is found only in Florida. Presumably, the people who lived here received that chunkey stone in trade with people from that area or from others who had dealt with them.

A Rainbow of Colors
In recent years the National Park Service has conducted excavations on the largest mound, which was eroding into the Tennessee River. By examining the walls of their trench and studying radar images, archeologist discovered the mound's original rounded top had been turned into a flat top, the mound had been created with different layers of black, yellow, and gray soil, and the exterior had been coated with red clay.
Erected by National Park Service

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U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentMan-Made FeaturesNative Americans.
Location. 35° 8.456′ N, 88° 19.648′ W. Marker is in Shiloh, Tennessee, in Hardin County. Marker is on Riverside Drive. Marker is at the shelter in Shiloh Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Riverside Dr, Shiloh TN 38376, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Shiloh Indian Mounds (a few steps from this marker); Mississippian Indians (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Shiloh Indian Mounds (within shouting distance of this marker); Chickasaw Homeland (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Camp of 17th Kentucky Infantry (about 300 feet away); Kentucky Regiments at Battle of Shiloh (about 500 feet away); Richardson's Battery (approx. ¼ mile away); Clanton's Alabama Cavalry (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shiloh.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 16, 2017. It was originally submitted on August 14, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 189 times since then and 11 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on August 14, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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May. 24, 2024