Monday, April 7, 2014

Jackson Area Chapter of the MAA


I would like to invite you to the April meeting of the Jackson Area Chapter of the Mississippi Archaeological Association (MAA). Mr. Sam Brookes is the guest speaker and will give a talk about Mississippi archaeology. I hope you can make plans to attend.

The meeting will be held at the Madison, Mississippi, Public Library conference room at 5 PM on Monday April 7th (Rebecca Baine Rigby Library on the front). There will be light refreshments served.  The library address is 994 Madison Avenue which is just off Highway 51 in Madison. If you take the Madison exit off of Interstate 55 go toward Madison and turn right when you get to HWY 51, then at the second light take a left on Madison Avenue. The library is a short distance on the left.

The business portion of the meeting will begin around 5:30 and last until 6:30 PM. It will include brief introductions and updates, a discussion of the goals of the chapter and upcoming activities such as mound tours, local digs and MAA summer digs. There will also be a time for area collectors, who brought artifacts, to display them and have them identified and possibly dated. 

If you have any questions please call or email.

Tony Payne
MAA Jackson Area Chapter President

phone: 601-672-7955


Online Local Archaeology Resources:

http://www.msarchaeology.org                                                                                  MAA Website

http://mdah.state.ms.us/new/                                                                                    MS. Dept of Archives and History

http://mdah.state.ms.us/new/learn/publications/archaeological-report-archive/        MDAH Archaeological Reports Archive

http://trails.mdah.ms.gov/mounds.htm                                                                       MDAH MS.Archaeological Trails

http://mapams.org/member_directory/                                                                       Membership directory of the MS. Assoc. of Professional Archaeologist

http://www.amec.msstate.edu                                                                                    MSU Department of Anthropology

http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/01workshop/nonarch.htm                  NPS Archaeology for the Non-Archaeologist 

http://www.cr.nps.gov/NR/travel/mounds/textonly.htm#byn                                        NPS Indian Mounds of Mississippi

http://www.archaeoexplorer.com/media/                                                                     Mark of the Mississippians (videos)


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2009 Mississippi Archaeology Expo in Jackson, MS

2009 Mississippi Archaeology Expo


Mississippi Archaeology Expo



Mississippi Archaeological Association

The second annual Mississippi Archaeology Expo will be held Saturday, October 17, at Millsaps College Bowl in Jackson. The fun will begin at 10 a.m. and will go on until 4 p.m.. The Expo is free to the public and everyone is invited. There will be fun for the whole family. Last year's event was a big hit!






Over 20 archaeologist from around Mississippi will be there to demonstrate and help us understand our state's archaeological heritage. You are invited to bring your Indian artificats for identification by an expert. You can learn how to register your sites with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.




Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
Members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will be there to demonstrate basket weaving, drum making, beadwork and the game of stick ball. Come and see flint knapping and primative tool making demonstrations by experts in the field.








There will be artifact displays from Native American sites around Mississippi. The University of Mississippi archaeologist Bryan Haley from the PBS TV archaeology series "Time Team America" will be there to answer your questions. For more information about the event visit this Mississippi Archaeological Association page. The Expo will be held on Saturday rain or shine.






Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Carson Mound Complex in Mississippi - MAA Summer Dig 2009



MAA 2009 Summer Dig at the Carson Mound Complex near Clarksdale, Mississippi



2009 MAA summer dig at the Carson Mound complex in Mississippi
I had the good fortune recently to participate in one of the Mississippi Archaeological Association's (MAA) summer digs. This one was at the Carson Mound Complex near Clarksdale, Mississippi. I left early Saturday morning and headed north towards the Mississippi Delta and the "Home of the Blues".

Native American mound that is part of the Carson Complex in Mississippi
The picture above is one of the mounds in the complex. This site originally consisted of over 80 mounds which were built by Native Americans between 1000 and 1500 A.D. This makes this one of the largest ceremonial centers that existed in the Mississippi Valley. Archaeologist have classified this time in Native American history as the Mississippian Period. It was characterized by mound building, agriculture and a complex social structure. During the last 100 years farming has destroyed most of the mounds. Carson Mounds was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Most of the remaining mounds on the site are now owned by the Archaeological Conservancy.


The flags mark surface features at the dig site
When I arrived at the site I was met by archaeologist John Connaway and Dr. Jay Johnson. John is an archaeologist with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Dr. Johnson is the director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Mississippi. I had met both on previous digs in the state.


Archaeologist John Connaway and Dr.Jay Johnson at the Carson Mound Site in Mississippi
In the picture above Dr. Johnson is on the right, John Connaway is in the center and bio-archaeologist Jenna James is seated. Jenna is a graduate student at the University of Mississippi. Bryan Haley was also at the dig. He is a research associate and coordinator of remote sensing application at Ole Miss. Bryan is also a member of the new PBS series "Time Team America".


Archaeologist John Connaway explaining the Carson site The Carson Mound complex site in MississippiArchaeologist John Connaway excavates a trash pit or midden at the Carson Mound Site


The top left photograph above shows John talking with Christian Roesler and Katie King, from Memphis, about this important archaeological site. The colored flags were placed by John in the center of old post forms and other structures. Wooden posts were used in building houses and other structures by the Native Americans who lived at the site. In the bottom left photo John is excavating a trash pit that contained a variety of artifacts and deer bones. The picture at the right shows Dr. Johnson and Christian screening material from this pit.




Shell tempered pottery from the Carson Mound site in MississippiLithics from the Carson siteIncised pattern on pottery from the Carson Site

Above left are examples of the shell tempered pottery found at this site. The shard in the lower center picture has line decorations. The picture on the right shows two pieces of the types of stone used to make tools by the early inhabitants.

Surface features and small excavation pits at the Carson Mound Complex Site in Mississippi

I spent most of the day at the site in an excavation pit with Jenna, Bryan and Katie and enjoyed every minute of it. The results of these archaeological excavations will be published sometime in the future. I would like to thank archaeologist John Connaway and Dr. Jay Johnson for allowing me to participate in this very important archaeological dig.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mississippi Archaeology Expo in Jackson


Come to the Mississippi Archaeology Expo in Jackson Native American Pottery from Mississippi


Mississippi Archaeology Expo

The first ever Mississippi Archaeology Expo will be held at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississsippi, on Saturday October 18, 2008. It will be held from 10 AM to 4 PM rain or shine. This will be a hands-on family fair that is a part of Archaeology Month in Mississippi. There will be many professional archaeologist there who will give demonstrations and answer your questions. They can also identify any artifacts you bring.


Special guests will be members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians who will dance and give basket weaving and beadworking demonstrations.


Come and have a great day of fun at the Mississippi Archaeology Expo. It is free to the public and will be located at the Millsaps College Bowl. Just look for the signs.

Archaeologist at a dig site in Mississippi

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Parchman Site Dig - Summer 2003 in the Mississippi Delta - Revisited

Parchman mound site Mississippi


The Parchman Mound Site Summer Dig in 2003 - Revisited

In the summer of 2003 the Mississippi Archaeological Association (MAA) took part in an archaeological dig at the Parchman Mound Site in the Mississippi Delta. It is a Mississippian Period multiple mound site with a large 10 meter tall oval earthen mound at it's center. This archaeological period lasted from about 1000 years ago until around 500 years ago. It is characterized by agriculture, ceremonial mound complexes and large chiefdoms.


Mississippi Archaeology
I did a blog post in November 2005 about this important archaeological site. I have since located some of the artifacts I collected while there. They were surface collected in the cotton field in the background of the first picture. These artifacts include pottery, stone tools and mud daub.

Native American pottery during this period is usually shell tempered. Shell, from freshwater shellfish, was used as a tempering agent in the clay so it would hold together and be a useful device for storage after firing. Directly below are good examples of shell tempered pottery. The shell is the small white parts in the pottery. Most pottery I found at the site is not decorated. Two examples of line decorations are below rignt.


Shell tempered Native American pottery Pottery from Parchman Archaeological Site




Their square houses were constructed using mud daub. This was a mixture of clay and plant fiber packed within and around a framework of wood or cane. The roofs were made of straw. Below are examples of mud daub that were preserved at the site.

Examples of mud daub used in house building.
Mud daub surface collected from the Parchman Site in Mississippi.
The stone artifacts, or lithics, consist of tools made from gravel that is located near the site. The gravel found in Mississippi was transported there during one of the last ice ages by glaciers for the north. Below are examples of stone tools I found while collecting in the cotton field that was once a large village.

Stone tools at the Parchman Mound Site
Native American stone tool made from local gravel.


This prehistoric Native American site is owned by the Archaeological Conservancy. The University of Mississippi Center for Archaeological Research has conducted their archaeology summer field school there for several years. The University of Mississippi link has an excellent description and pictures of each of these summer digs.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Tallahatta Quartzite Quarry Site in East Central Mississippi

TQ quarry site in Mississippi

Native American Tallahatta Quartzite Quarry Site


I recently visited an important archaeological site in east central Mississippi with some of my professional archaeologist buddies. I had first gone to this rare stone quarry site around 15 years ago and this was my first time to come back since then. Tallahatta quartzite has been quarried there for over 10,000 years. In this area of east central Mississippi most of the Native American stone artifacts are made from this material.


tallahatta outcrop tallahatta quartzite outcrop
This archaeological site is important because it is both rare and extensive. Tallahatta quartzite is only found in the tallahatta formation in east central Mississippi and southwest Alabama. This site covers a large area because there is not only the outcrop but also the locations around it where the stone was worked. Most of the artifacts found near the outcrop are not finished tools but preforms and small flakes that were used to make other tools.

archaeological quarry site in Mississippi

The TQ outcrop here is a horizontal tabular layer within a sedimentary claystone formation that is along and above a small creek. Worked pieces of this stone can be found on the ground for some distance from the outcrop itself. In creek profiles these stone artifacts extend down to a depth of several feet. TQ generally has a white sugar-like appearance but can come in many colors such as grey, black or red. It was the only stone is the general vicinity that could be used to make stone tools because it exhibits a conical fracture which is necessary for knapping. TQ was used in trade throughout the Southeastern US.

tallahatta quartzite artifacts from this site


For more information about tallahatta quartzite check out Tallahatta Sandstone . This page is published by the University of South Alabama and they call the material Tallahatta Sandstone.


Knapping Tallahatta Quartzite is a link to a YouTube video of TQ being worked into a projectile point.