The Archaeology of North Carolina

North Carolina Archaeological Time

The Woodland and Mississippian Periods in North Carolina

Coastal Woodland || Piedmont Tradition Early/Middle Woodland   ||  Piedmont Tradition Late Woodland   ||  Southern Piedmont Late Woodland  ||  Appalachian Summit Woodland   ||  South Appalachian Mississippian

The South Appalachian Mississippian Tradition

The chronological and cultural relationships between Pisgah, Qualla, and Lamar phases are indirectly addressed by sites in the Catawba River valley, where temporal overlap forces a re-examination of the traditional view of a Pisgah-to-Qualla developmental sequence.

The Eastern Fringe of the Appalachian Summit (after A.D. 1350)

Archaeologists believe that during the time of the Pisgah and Qualla phases in the Appalachian Summit, the people who lived below the Blue Ridge in the Upper Catawba River basin in Burke and McDowell counties show affinities to both the prehistoric Cherokee and the Catawba. Two archaeological sites, McDowell site in McDowell county and Berry site in Burke county, illustrate the complexities of the period.

According to David Moore's 2002 volume "Catawba Valley Mississippian" the McDowell site is a relatively large village dating to the Pleasant Garden phase in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (A.D. 1400 - 1600) whose people participated in regional activities with Pisgah phase people to their west and Burke phase people to their east.

Excavations at the Berry site revealed a major Burke phase component with similarities to Middle Lamar phases in Georgia and the Middle Qualla phase in the Appalachian Summit also dating to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Because inhabitants of McDowell site interacted with both Pisgah-like people to their west and Qualla/Lamar related people to their east at Berry site, they illustrate the problem with viewing Pisgah and Qualla phases in the Appalachian Summit as purely sequential developments.

Moore notes that the broader interactions of Burke phase and other surrounding late prehistoric groups make it clear "that groups practicing South Appalachian Mississippian lifeways occupied not only the south-central Piedmont of North Carolina (Pee Dee culture), but an equally large portion of the western Piedmont region as well." At one of these sites (Berry) the history of the earliest European contacts in North Carolina is presently being unearthed.

©2010 UNC-RLA