Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Jefferies


The Midsouth has long been known to be a locus of Paleoindian (13,200-10,000 yrs B.P.) populations. Paleoindian populations have generally been characterized as highly mobile hunter-gatherers with egalitarian social structure. Utilizing the theoretical lens of diversification and intensification of resource use, the Late Pleistocene adaptations of the region’s populations are examined from both a large scale or coarse grain perspective as well as more fine grain data from the site level. Previous models of Paleoindian adaptations are defined and tested in this study to determine the applicability of these models with new data. Coarse grain data are derived from lithic raw material use in diagnostic artifacts from six Paleoindian archaeological sites concentrated in the lower Tennessee River Valley that are referred to as the Tennessee-Duck River Paleoindian complex. Numerous Paleoindian projectile points have been recovered from these sites that allow for raw material use across the lower Tennessee River to be evaluated. Site specific data are derived from analysis of lithic artifacts and spatial distributions at the Carson-Conn-Short site (40BN190), also situated in the lower Tennessee River Valley. The Carson-Conn-Short site is a large multi-component Paleoindian site located near the confluence of the Duck and Tennessee Rivers. The regional or coarse grain data indicate a pattern of increasing regionalization and intensification of local resource use. The site level data suggest that the Paleoindian occupants of the Carson-Conn-Short site were more sedentary than previously thought. Traditional thought suggests that large, riverine Paleoindian sites are the product of either aggregation of different groups or re-occupation of the same landform over time. Rather than reflecting aggregation or re-occupation by Late Pleistocene populations, these people continuously occupied the site with minimal movement. The site was continuously occupied through the entirety Late Pleistocene into the Early Holocene. The Carson-Conn-Short site was situated at a particular locale that allowed for access to the greatest diversity of resources and also provided a mechanism that allowed for social information to be transferred via riverine mechanisms. This study suggests that Paleoindian populations in the Midsouth exhibited a greater degree of social complexity and sedentism than previously thought that provided the foundation for the development of agriculture and associated social institutions.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

2003 Susan B. Abott-Jamieson Pre-dissertation Research Fund Award ($1000)