History is right beneath our own feet! There are plenty of prehistoric and historic archaeology sites in the Smoky Mountains with some even available to the public! It is a great educational opportunity for the whole family to learn about history. Here are 3 archaeology sites in the Smoky Mountains you need to know about:
1. McMahan Indian Mound
It might not look like much at first glance, but the McMahan Indian Mound was once much larger than the knoll you see today in the Smoky Mountains. The city of Sevierville has grown around this archaeology site which is located right along the Forks of the River Parkway and across from the Sevier County Public Library. The site is a 800 to 500 year old Native American earthen mound and was first excavated in 1881 by William H. Holmes. Artifacts found during excavation include: Mississippian culture pottery, burials, arrow points, a marble pipe, and shell jewelry.
The site is actually part of a much larger village complex. The site is located on what used to be on the McMahan family’s farm. Since 1987, the City of Sevierville has overseen the site with funding from a trust. The public can visit the site and it is completely free. A Tennessee Historical Commission historical marker is marking the site with general information about the mound. This site is a great educational opportunity for the family! You can visit the mound at 399 Forks of the River Parkway in Sevierville, TN.
2. The Original Iron Forge
Did you know Pigeon Forge’s name comes from the iron forge that was built in the Little Pigeon River by Issac Love in 1817? Archaeologists from the University of Tennessee investigated the original location of the forge and made a great discovery! They found the location of the original iron forge’s furnace, water wheel, water drainage, and wooden artifacts from the water wheel beam. It’s amazing these artifacts were still there after all the years! The site is located very near the Old Mill but is not officially marked to the public. Next time you are eating at the Old Mill Restaurant, think about all the rich history right around you.
3. 10th Century Cherokee House
In 2010, students from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) conducted an excavation at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. What they found was the remains of a 10th century ancestral Cherokee house. The location is away from known sites. During the excavation, they found artifacts like ceramic vessels, stone tool fragments, post holes and storage pits in the house. This site gives us more information about the poorly understood Cherokee prehistory! The site is protected and the exact location in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not available to the general public.
Now that you know 3 archaeology sites in the Smoky Mountains, you are ready to plan your next trip to experience the history of the area. Before your visit, learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.