Bell’s Bend Area, Cumberland River,
Nashville, Tennessee

David G. Anderson, PhD, RPA, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Shane Miller, MA, UT, PhD Candidate, University of Arizona
Tom Pertierra, Director, Southeastern Paleoamerican Survey, Inc


The Cumberland River/Midsouth Paleoindian Project, an official University of Tennessee, Knoxville research project and field school, will be locating and examining prehistoric and historic archaeological sites in and near the Bells Bend area immediately west of Nashville, Tennessee. We will be in the field from July 5th through August 7th, 2012 The research team will be based at the Bells Bend Outdoor Center, an 808 acre park located immediately to the west of downtown Nashville along the Cumberland River, and managed by the Davidson County Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation.

The project will be directed by David G. Anderson, D. Shane Miller, and Tom Pertierra, assisted by a number of graduate students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and other institutions of higher education. It will be directed to the complementary goals of student training, public education, and basic research. Presentations on the work will be given each week at the Bells Bend Outdoor Center and will be open to the public. Should you have additional questions about the project, contact David G. Anderson at, Shane Miller at or Tom Pertierra at . After July 6th we will be at the Bells Bend Outdoor Center, and can be reached via email (which will be forwarded), or via the park number, 615-862-4187, or via email at .

      Bells Bend Outdoor Center


Download the Project
Information Manual Here.

Our research will consist of exploratory archaeological survey and excavation directed to documenting the archaeological resources in and near the Bells Bend area, along the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tennessee. A 13,000 year record of prehistoric and historic occupations is already known to be present in this area, although only limited archaeological fieldwork has occurred at many of the known locations to date. The proposed fieldwork will help expand our current understanding of the archaeological record in the area, and particularly to document the archaeological resources present in the Bells Bend Outdoor Center, who are graciously making their facilities available to the project.


A specific research goal of the fieldwork is understanding the impact of global climate change on human populations in the Southeast. The research will be directed to finding sites with stratified deposits and well preserved organic remains that can provide absolute dating/chronological control, and at the same time inform on the lifeways and subsistence practices of the Southeast’s early peoples. Were such sites to be found, examination of associated artifact and paleosubsistence data would allow us to explore the kinds of changes in technology and subsistence adaptation that were occurring. We also have as goals documenting the impact of recent historic flooding and looting on local cultural resources.


The project involves specialists in a number of disciplines and institutions, including professional archaeologists, graduate and undergraduate students, avocational archaeologists, and public volunteers. Samples will be analyzed in the field and after and curated at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Anthropology and at the University of Arizona Geoarchaeology Laboratory. We have obtained support for the project from a number of local residents in the Bells Bend, and have written permission to work on the property of several local landowners. We will be actively seeking additional permissions throughout the project, and look forward to meeting local residents.


A detailed technical report describing the fieldwork and its results will be prepared and submitted to the Tennessee Historical Commission, the Tennessee Division of Archaeology, and the Metropolitan Historical Commission of Nashville and Davidson County.


Visitors and volunteers are welcome. Please coordinate your visit in advance with one of the project directors. Since this project will involve students, as well as volunteers, and local residents, it will play a major role in public education as well. We plan to involve local residents in our work, and will have public sessions while we are in the field describing what we are doing and what we have found. Our goal, besides advancing knowledge, is the education of local residents as well as the citizens of Tennessee in general about the importance of historic preservation, archaeology, and the early human settlement of the state.



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