Monday, February 26, 2007

Prehistoric Fortified Villages in the Mississippi River Valley

One of the projects I have been working on consists of mapping known (and previously unknown) earth works (i.e., spatially structured deposits) in the Mississippi River valley. As it turns out, there are hundreds of deposits that are either poorly known or not known at all by professional archaeologists (usually these are features that are known to local folks, but have yet to be systematically described). Working with Robert Dunnell and online aerial photographs, I have been trying to create the beginnings of an LMV database that brings together known site records with as many photographic images as we can pull together. Ultimately, this will be the basis of a larger project to systematically evaluate the valley.
To the right is a false-color infrared USGS image of 3MS59, a deposit identified by the Arkansas Archeological Survey. In this image, one can clearly see the large rectangular shape of the deposit and even some detail about the internal structure. The parallel lines on the perimeter of the deposit may indicate multiple episodes of construction or functional differences. Incredibly cool.
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