Archaic Tattooing and Bundle Keeping in Tennessee, ca. 1600 BC

Author(s): Aaron Deter-Wolf; Tanya Peres

Year: 2018


The Fernvale archaeological site in Williamson County, Tennessee, is a multi-component site that includes a significant Late Archaic cemetery and occupation dated ca. 1600 BC. Although the site was excavated in 1985, it was not fully analyzed or published for nearly three decades. Formal analysis of zooarchaeological materials from Fernvale took place from 2007-2012 as part of an overall effort to reassess the site assemblage. In this paper we describe findings generated by combining traditional zooarchaeological analysis with ethnohistorical research, ethnographic analogy, experimental archaeology, and use-wear analysis. By incorporating these various lines of evidence we are able not only to correct previous errors in species identification, but also to produce a contextual framework that informs our understanding of both emerging and entirely new aspects of Late Archaic lifeways. Through this interdisciplinary effort we are able to provide archaeological evidence of the oldest directly-identified bone tattoo implements in the world and to demonstrate the persistence of Native American bundle-keeping and tattooing traditions over more than three millennia.

Cite this Record

Archaic Tattooing and Bundle Keeping in Tennessee, ca. 1600 BC. Aaron Deter-Wolf, Tanya Peres. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444572)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20255