As a Prehistoric Archaeologist for the State of Tennessee’s Division of Archaeology, I am responsible for managing prehistoric sites on State-owned lands, conducting archaeological excavations and research and publishing the results of those studies, investigating disturbances to prehistoric human skeletal remains, managing archaeological collections, and informing the public about archaeology. I regularly give presentations on my work, archaeology in general, and Tennessee’s prehistoric past for school, community, and avocational interest groups throughout the state.
My current research includes examining prehistoric tattooing in the Eastern Woodlands and investigating the interdependence of human populations and aquatic species along the Cumberland River during the mid-Holocene. In addition, I was co-director for a recent National Science Foundation-funded project which investigated natural and anthropogenic disturbances to more than 120 prehistoric sites along the middle portion of the Cumberland River following catastrophic flooding in May of 2010.
The first task each day is to check email and phone messages to see what inquiries have come in. Part of my role with the state’s Division of Archaeology is to help inform the public about Tennessee’s prehistoric past, and on an average day I’ll receive questions and requests from a variety of sources. These typically include property owners with archaeological resources on their land, collectors interested in identifying their finds, and students, academics, and Cultural Resource Management firms conducting research. The type and number of requests seems to cycle, and recently there has been a marked increase in calls from members of the public curious about prehistoric artifacts they have found or inherited.