Area's prehistory period in spotlight

photo Photo by Randall Higgins Mike Hendrix brought some pre-Cherokee artifacts to a Sunday afternoon lecture by Lynn P. Sullivan, curator of UT's Frank H. McClung Museum.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A University of Tennessee archaeologist says there are many hidden prehistory, artifact-rich places in the Chattanooga region.

Some of those deliberately are hidden to protect them from vandals, said Lynn Sullivan, curator of the Frank H. McClung Museum in Knoxville. Others simply are unknown to anyone.

Sullivan was in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon to give a lecture on what is known as "prehistory." Speaking to a packed meeting room at the Museum Center at Five Points, Sullivan said that, when she uses the term "prehistory," she not only means eras before written history but eras that scientists know almost nothing about.

Sullivan, a native Clevelander, specializes in the Mississippian period of prehistory and artifacts uncovered in the 1930s at the beginning of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Those artifacts are kept at the McClung Museum, mostly undisplayed but available for study.

When site preparation began on a new Cleveland subdivision about a decade ago, evidence from a village dating to about 1200 A.D. was revealed, she said. That's why any large land disturbance requires an archaeology study, including current projects such as the Cleveland airport site, Sullivan said.

Mike Hendrix has his own experiences with artifacts.

Retired from the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, he used to find evidence of life before the Cherokees on his visits to area farms.

"Almost every farm has them," he said. "I would usually give them to the property owners."

Hendrix brought two pieces with him to show Sullivan, a bone pendant and a spear point she estimated to be from about 10,000 B.C.

Sullivan's lecture was sponsored by Check Into Cash founder Allan Jones.

"There was an entire prehistoric community that settled in Bradley County," Jones said. He said be became aware of Sullivan while searching for a book she had written, "The Prehistory of the Chickamauga Basin."

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