published Monday, June 30th, 2014

Group doing digs in Eagleville, Tenn.

The Daily News Journal
MTSU student Clacey Farley sorts out dirt during archaeology field school in Eagleville, Tenn., on Thursday.
MTSU student Clacey Farley sorts out dirt during archaeology field school in Eagleville, Tenn., on Thursday.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    MTSU student Josh Bicknell, foreground, measures one of the dig sites while MTSU student Eric Stockton records the measurements during the archaeology field school at Magnolia Valley in Eagleville, Tenn., on Thursday.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

EAGLEVILLE, Tenn. — Some say the history is written in stone. For archaeologists, it's written in the dirt.

In Rutherford County, history is about to get rewritten by MTSU professor Tanya Peres.

Peres recently launched the Rutherford County Archaeology Research Program, an initiative to explore and record the prehistoric cultures of the county.

"We are going to survey the county as completely as possible and record all the prehistoric sites," Peres said.

Since the birth of the United States, it was believed that no ancient people lived in Rutherford County.

That theory dates back to 1776 when explorer James Adair met with a group of Native Americans at Black Fox Springs near present day Murfreesboro.

"They told him this area was just used as a hunting ground," Peres said.

And until recently, the archaeological record has supported this theory.

Since the Tennessee Division of Archaeology began recording sites, more than 1,300 prehistoric sites have been found in Williamson and Davidson counties.

"Rutherford County only has 275. That is not even half of one of those counties," Peres said.

She is on a mission to add to the list, and she's started in Eagleville. Peres is conducting an archaeological field school for MTSU students at the Magnolia Valley equestrian farm in Eagleville.

The eight-week program is designed for archaeology students at MTSU to gain first-hand knowledge of the techniques required to work in the field.

Peres explained she chose Magnolia Valley because former student Jesse Tune suggested they use his mother's land in Eagleville.

Mary Tune purchased the land in 2006, and her son, being a curious archaeologist, did some digging in 2008 and found artifacts that suggested humans lived on the farm in the Paleo Era, which dates roughly from 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, to the Archaic Era, which dates roughly from 3,000 to 10,000 years ago.

With the previous research done by Tune, Peres headed out into the field with a group of 12 eager students.

They started the Magnolia Valley project with shovel tests, where small holes are dug to test for the presence of artifacts, and remote sensing, where the use of ground penetrating radar and other technology is used to test for anomalies underground without having to dig.

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