Excavations at Wickliffe Mounds

By Welch, Paul D. | Southeastern Archaeology, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Excavations at Wickliffe Mounds


Welch, Paul D., Southeastern Archaeology


Excavations at Wickliffe Mounds. KIT W. WESLER. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa and London, 2001. xxi + 178 pps., illus., tables, biblio., index, CD. $39.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8173-1064-9.

This book is interesting for not only its archaeological content but also its format. Few archaeology books aim to satisfy both professional and nonprofessional audiences, but that is what Wesler's ambitious and deceptively small volume about the Wickliffe site does. He attempts this feat by bundling with the text a CD that contains an additional twelve chapters, four databases, and over 700 figures. The chapters in the paper volume are of more general interest than the material allocated to the CD. I am very impressed by the result: a readable book supplemented with unusually abundant technical detail.

The Wickliffe site occupies a high bluff in western Kentucky, overlooking the Mississippi River a few kilometers downstream from its confluence with the Ohio. By Mississippian standards the site is small (2.5 ha, with a population estimated at 250), but it has achieved a notoriety out of proportion to its size. The notoriety is due to the decades in which Fain and Blanche King operated the site as a commercial tourist "destination." Wesler gives a lucid account (chapter 2) of the site's history under the King aegis, a story as twisted and disturbing as Jeffrey Brain's account of dealing with Leonard Charrier in Tunica Treasure. Aside from being a good read, this history explains how the site and its materials came to be in such a sad state when they were acquired by Murray State University in 1983. The newly formed Wickliffe Mounds Research Center (WMRC), with Wesler as director, was confronted with dilapidated exhibits including numerous Native American burials, and 85,000 artifacts with no field notes. Making sense of all this must have seemed a remote goal at the time, and indeed it took fifteen years to assemble the account provided in this book.

One thing Wesler had going for him was that most of the artifacts had provenience labels on them, even though there were no records of the excavations themselves. Wesler therefore decided "to reinvestigate the areas around the 1930s [excavation] locations ... in the hope of extrapolating from undisturbed contexts to those previously removed" (p. 32). The resulting WMRC excavations, reviewed in chapter 3, are too numerous to describe here, so I mention only my favorite discovery. On the burned clay floor of a house west of Mound C, the excavators found a painted cross-and-circle (Figure 18.87 [image b354.jpg] on the CD). There are instances of painted walls at Macon, Moundville, and in the American Bottom, but to my knowledge this is the only known instance of a painted floor in a Mississippian structure.

Artifacts are the subject of chapter 4. Pottery and ornaments are described in some detail, with everything else relegated to a mere four pages. Wesler admits that this is largely due to his own interest and expertise in pottery, and the book offers an implicit invitation for other researchers to take on the task of analyzing the entire corpus of bone and stone tools and subsistence remains (samples are dealt with in several chapters on the CD; see below).

Wesler's other reason for focusing on the pottery was its utility in figuring out the chronology of the site (chapter 5). He employs the type-variety analytic tools widely used by Southeastern archaeologists. Wesler works out several dating formulas, which he uses in combination with cross-dating, stratigraphy, seriation, and absolute dates. At the broadest scale, the result is yet another avatar of archaeology's triune god: three periods called Early Wickliffe (AD 1100-1175), Middle Wickliffe (AD 1175-1250), and Late Wickliffe (AD 1250-1350). Wesler's artifact chronology agrees well with what is known elsewhere in the Ohio-Mississippi confluence region and is one of the best-anchored (albeit brief) sequences in that region. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Excavations at Wickliffe Mounds
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.