Heading for the Hills: New Evidence for Migrations to the Upper Tennessee Valley

Lynne P. Sullivan, Kevin E. Smith, Shawn Patch, Sarah Lowry, John Jacob Holland-Lulewicz, Scott Meeks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The development of Mississippian culture in East Tennessee was affected by events in adjacent regions from the mid-thirteenth to the early fourteenth centuries. By AD 1300, the people of the Middle Cumberland region of central Tennessee were on the move, a migration related at least in part to climatic instability including multiple drought episodes. Archaeological evidence suggests that some of these migrants went to East Tennessee because it was not much affected by the droughts (e.g., Meeks, 2009). At approximately the same time, events in North Georgia concentrated at the large town of Etowah also likely increased interregional interactions with East Tennessee populations (King, 2020). We consider data from two major sites with platform mounds in East Tennessee: Long Island (40RE17) and Bell (40RE1). These Roane County sites are on islands four river miles apart in the portion of the Tennessee River near the base of the Cumberland Plateau and that now is impounded by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Watts Bar reservoir (Fig. 8.1). Although investigated for over a century, these sites are not well known, but as we will demonstrate, they are now providing new evidence relating to events in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries including possible migrations from the Middle Cumberland region to East Tennessee and interactions with peoples from North Georgia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFollowing the Mississippian Spread
Subtitle of host publicationClimate Change and Migration in the Eastern US (ca. AD 1000-1600)
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9783030890827
ISBN (Print)9783030890810
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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