Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective

By Lynne P. Sullivan; Robert C. Mainfort Jr. | Go to book overview

13
The Mortuary Assemblage from the Holliston Mills
Site, a Mississippian Town in Upper East Tennessee

JAY D. FRANKLIN, ELIZABETH K. PRICE, AND LUCINDA M. LANGSTON

After extensive archaeological investigations at Phipps Bend on the Holston River in upper East Tennessee, Lafferty (1981:520) concluded that “the Mississippian occupation appears to be quite unintense.” The Mississippian Period in the area was characterized by small, scattered settlements with no evidence for corn agriculture. Lafferty’s volume stands out as a thorough and remarkable body of scholarship. However, it is clear that Lafferty was unaware of the archaeology of the Mississippian towns that once dotted the Holston River terraces immediately upstream of Phipps Bend. Lafferty (1981: xxii) also stated, “I would be surprised if all of the conclusions reached in this monograph remain unmodified, and I am certain that much greater detail is possible through more analysis and excavation.” Toward that end, we introduce the archaeology of the nearby Holliston Mills site (40HW11), a Mississippian town in upper East Tennessee, with particular focus on mortuary patterning. We end by suggesting that the Mississippian occupation in the region was both intense and extensive if not prototypical of Mississippian occupations elsewhere in the greater Southeast.

The Holliston Mills site is located on the north bank of the Holston River south of Kingsport in Hawkins County, Tennessee (Figure 13.1). The site was excavated by members of the Tennessee Archaeological Society between 1968 and 1972. It was excavated in 10–foot blocks using six-inch levels, revealing a large late prehistoric (and perhaps protohistoric) town represented by least two palisades, more than 660 burials, a large public structure, and several smaller domestic structures. Richard Polhemus (personal communication, 2005) remembers multiple palisades and abundant structures. No mounds have been recorded at this locale (Figure 13.2).

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