The Mississippian Fin de Siècle in the Middle Cumberland Region of Tennessee

Author(s): Anthony Krus; Charles Cobb

Year: 2018


Bayesian chronological modeling is used to investigate the chronology for a large-scale human depopulation event during the Mississippi period (A.D. 1000–1700) known as the Vacant Quarter phenomenon. The Middle Cumberland Region (MCR) of Tennessee is within the Vacant Quarter area and six villages from the final phase of Mississippian activity in the MCR have been subjected to radiocarbon dating. Complete radiocarbon datasets from these sites are presented within an interpretative Bayesian statistical framework. The results provide a unique history of each settlement and demonstrate that Mississippian occupations at each site likely terminated in the mid-to-late fifteenth- and possibly early sixteenth-centuries A.D., which is 50–100 years later than the most recent estimate for the timing of the Vacant Quarter. Mississippian abandonment in the MCR was relatively quick, likely occurring over less than a century. The exact reasons for abandonment are not entirely clear but appear to be linked to climate change. A radiocarbon simulation experiment indicates that future robust radiocarbon dating with well selected samples could greatly improve the chronological precision for this late Mississippian activity.

Cite this Record

The Mississippian Fin de Siècle in the Middle Cumberland Region of Tennessee. Anthony Krus, Charles Cobb. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443902)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 18762