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 South Appalachian Mississippian tradition, with its complicated-stamped ceramics, stockaded villages, substructure mounds, and agricultural economy appeared shortly after A.D. 1000. The emergence of Mississippian culture in the Appalachian Summit is abrupt and a hypothesis of extended, in situ cultural evolution is tenuous.

Pisgah phase (A.D. 1000 - 1450)

Pisgah phase people's dependence on agriculture and their construction of elevated platform mounds upon which temples or chiefly residences were built mirror important changes in sociopolitical organization. Extensive excavations at two sites, Warren Wilson and Garden Creek, make the Pisgah phase one of the best understood cultural complexes in the Appalachian Summit.

Lamar Culture and the Qualla phase (after A.D. 1350)

Qualla phase is a manifestation of the widespread Lamar culture found across the northern half of Georgia and Alabama, most of South Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. Qualla phase in the Appalachian Summit falls within the Middle Lamar and Late Lamar periods, continuing until the time of sustained European contacts with Historic period Cherokees.

The Eastern Fringe of the Appalachian Summit (after A.D. 1350 to Historic period Cherokee)

The chronological and cultural relationships between Pisgah, and Qualla and Lamar phases are further 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.

Woodland and South Appalachian Mississippian sites
Map of the North Carolina mountains showing Woodland and South Appalachian Mississippian sites.

At the conclusion of the University of North Carolina's Cherokee project in the 1970's, the culture history of the Appalachian Summit during the Woodland and Mississippian period seemed clear. A straightforward sequence of development from Early Woodland Swannanoa phase to the Qualla phase and the Historic period Cherokees, had been outlined. New information from surrounding regions has made in clear that the ideas that once seemed so clear and straightforward will continue to require re-examination.

©2010 UNC-RLA