Mann, David F.; Grissino-Mayer, Henri D.; Faulkner, Charles H.; Rehder, John B.(Tree-Ring Society, 2009-01)
The Swaggerty Blockhouse has historical and cultural significance for Tennessee because it is believed to be the only remaining 18th Century blockhouse in the state. We incorporated analyses of artifacts obtained from archaeological excavations coupled with tree-ring dating techniques to determine the possible year of construction of the structure. A nearby reference tree-ring chronology from Norris Dam anchored the Swaggerty Blockhouse tree-ring chronology from 1674 to 1859. The assemblages of artifacts (nails, ceramics, and window glass) recovered from the site corroborated the construction date and provided a clear understanding of the structure’s use as a barn for storage and hog processing. Based on our analyses, the historic Swaggerty ‘‘Blockhouse,’’ originally believed to have been built by James Swaggerty in 1787, is instead a small cantilever barn built by Jacob Stephens in 1860 and used for hog farming.
We investigated the potential for using long-archived wood samples extracted from archaeological contexts at four Mississippian Period (AD 900–1600) settlements in eastern Tennessee for tree-ring dating purposes. Sixteen wood samples recovered from prehistoric sites were analyzed to: (1) crossmatch samples from each site with the intent of determining the relative chronological order of sites, (2) establish a floating prehistoric tree-ring chronology for eastern Tennessee, (3) determine the applicability of dendrochronology in prehistoric archaeology in eastern Tennessee, and (4) establish a strategy for future research in the region. We succeeded in crossmatching only three of the 16 tree-ring sequences against each other, representing two sites relatively close to each other: Upper Hampton and Watts Bar Reservoir. The average interseries correlation of these three samples was 0.74 with an average mean sensitivity of 0.26, and they were used to create a 131-year-long floating chronology. The remaining samples contained too few rings (15 to 43) for conclusive crossmatching. Our results demonstrate that dendrochronological techniques may be applied to the practice of prehistoric archaeology in the Southeastern U.S., but highlight the challenges that face dendroarchaeologists: (1) poor wood preservation at prehistoric sites, (2) too few rings in many samples, (3) the lack of a reference chronology long enough for absolute dating, and (4) the lack of a standard on-site sampling protocol to ensure the fragile wood samples remain intact.
Slayton, Jessica D.; Stevens, Maggie R.; Grissino-Mayer, Henri D.; Faulkner, Charles H.(Tree-Ring Society, 2009-01)
The Marble Springs homestead in south Knox County serves as a significant heritage site for the state of Tennessee because it was the final home of one of our nation’s most important founding statesmen and first governor of Tennessee (1796 to 1801, 1803 to 1809), John Sevier. Recent archaeological and historical research had called into question the authenticity of the original John Sevier log cabin located at the Marble Springs homestead. We used tree-ring dating to determine the year(s) of construction of the Governor John Sevier cabin and the adjacent Walker Springs log cabin (which had been relocated to the site later and has no ties to Gov. John Sevier) by first extracting cores from all accessible logs in the cabins and then evaluating the cutting dates of these logs. A nearby reference chronology at Norris Dam anchored the Gov. John Sevier cabin chronology from 1720 to 1834 and the Walker Springs cabin chronology from 1675 to 1826. The cutting dates obtained from six logs in the Gov. John Sevier cabin suggest construction of the cabin was completed sometime between late 1835 and early 1836. We were able to date cores from 29 logs from the Walker Springs cabin, which strongly support final construction between late 1827 to early 1828. Our dendrochronological analyses suggest that the cabin at Marble Springs long thought to be the original cabin occupied by Gov. John Sevier was instead likely built during the occupancy of the property by a later tenant, George Kirby, in the early to mid-1830s, well after the death of Sevier in 1815.
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