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Kentucky’s rich archaeological heritage spans thousands of years, and the Commonwealth remains fertile ground for study of the people who inhabited the midcontinent before, during, and after European settlement. This long-awaited volume brings together the most recent research on Kentucky’s prehistory and early history, presenting both an accurate descriptive and an authoritative interpretation of Kentucky’s past.

The book is arranged chronologically—from the Ice Age to modern times, when issues of preservation and conservation have overtaken questions of identification and classification. For each time slice of Kentucky’s past, the contributors describe typical communities and settlement patterns, major changes from previous cultural periods, the nature of the economy and subsistence, artifacts, the general health and characteristics of the people, and regional cultural differences.

Sites discussed include the Green River shell mounds, the Central Kentucky Adena mounds and enclosures, Eastern Kentucky rockshelters, the important Wickliffe site at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, Fort Ancient culture villages, and the fortified towns of the Mississippian period in Western Kentucky.

The authors draw from a wealth of unpublished material and offer the detailed insights and perspectives of specialists who have focused much of their professional careers on the scientific investigation of Kentucky’s prehistory. The book’s many graphic elements—maps, artifact drawings, photographs, and village plans—combined with a straightforward and readable text, provide a format that will appeal to the general reader as well as to students and specialists in other fields who wish to learn more about Kentucky’s archaeology.

R. Barry Lewis is associate professor of archaeology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a past president of the Illinois Archaeological survey. He has been actively involved in archaeological research in Kentucky since 1980.

"A valuable resource for researchers as well as an accessible account for the non-professional enthusiast. . . . An excellent way to enhance your travel through Kentucky and nearby states in search of archaeological attractions. Fortunately for professionals and the public alike, Kentucky has an exemplary record of preserving and protecting this rich heritage. Kentucky Archaeology is a product of such efforts."—American Archaeology

"Among the rarest of finds is a book about archaeology that is informative, well-written, clearly illustrated, and entertaining—one that opens a tremendous storehouse of archaeological knowledge, without crushing the reader under the mass of artifact descriptions. . . . The authors and editors of Kentucky Archaeology succeed in making the Commonwealth's rich archaeological heritage accessible to the public."—North Carolina Historical Review

"A compelling and precise presentation of what is known about Kentucky's past and the lifeways of the people who lived in what is now known as Kentucky."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"With articles written by some of the nation’s, and Kentucky’s, leading archaeologists, Kentucky Archaeology is the definitive guide to the topic."—The Dirt Brothers

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Excavations, Archaeology, Kentucky, Antiquities


Archaeological Anthropology

Kentucky Archaeology
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