I am an archaeologist who studies the late prehistoric and Contact period Native American societies of the southeastern United States. In my research, I have used artifactual, architectural, and mortuary data to explore social and political differences that existed in Native American communities. I am particularly interested in exploring how social groups interacted to create and maintain communities that persisted for long periods of time. Investigating the construction, use, and evolution of public architecture—especially in the form of earthen monuments such as platform mounds—has been particularly important in my research. I have investigated a number of mound sites in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama. I am interested in what architectural differences and the construction of monuments can tell us about ancient communities. Methodologically, I am most interested in the analysis of aboriginal ceramics.
Much of my research over the last 10 years has focused on the Town Creek site, the archaeological remains of a Native American town that was located in the North Carolina piedmont between A.D. 1100 and 1400. This research has used architectural, mortuary, and ceramic data to investigate how the community at Town Creek changed during its long occupation. During the past five years, I have also investigated the Jackson Landing site in coastal Mississippi. This site is an early Late Woodland (ca. A.D. 650) ceremonial center with large earthen monuments that include a linear earthwork and a platform mound. Investigations of the mound have shown that it was the locus of large-group gatherings that involved moundbuilding, the manipulation of special objects, and feasting events that included the preparation and consumption of food on a large scale. The amount of labor represented in the site’s monuments and the residues of large, public rituals suggest that Jackson Landing represents an early manifestation of regional sociopolitical integration in its area.
My research plans for the immediate future include continuing to investigate both Town Creek and Jackson Landing. There are innumerable opportunities for more research at both sites based on additional fieldwork, the analysis of existing data, and the examination of existing collections. Several graduate students have been involved in investigations of both sites, and I am eager to involve more students in this research in the future.
Prior to my arrival at East Carolina in 2008, I was a Senior Project Manager for an environmental consulting firm on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where I was responsible for developing and directing cultural resources management projects. Much of my work during that time focused on federal recovery projects following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I received a Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005, a M.A. from the University of Alabama in 1997, and a B.A. from Mississippi State University in 1994.
Selected Publications and Research Reports
2012 (under review) The Creation of Ritual Space at the Jackson Landing Site in Coastal Mississippi. In Landscapes and People of the Early and Middle Woodland Southeast, edited by Alice Wright and Edward Henry. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
2012 (under review) The Current State of Town Creek Research: What have We Learned after the First 75 Years? In The Archaeology of Piedmont North Carolina: Old Things Seen in a New Light, edited by R. P. Stephen Davis Jr. North Carolina Archaeological Council.
2011 Archaeological Investigations at Jackson Landing (22Ha515): An Early Late Woodland Mound and Earthwork Site in Coastal Mississippi. Department of Anthropology and Phelps Archaeology Labs, East Carolina University, Greenville. Submitted to Historic Preservation Division, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.
2011 Dating the Construction of Early Late Woodland Earthen Monuments at the Jackson Landing Site in Coastal Mississippi. Southeastern Archaeology 30(2):351-364.
2010 A Functional Analysis of Mississippian Ceramic Vessels from Town Creek. Southeastern Archaeology 29(1):8-30.
2010 Mound Construction and Change in the Mississippian Community at Town Creek. In Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective, edited by Robert C. Mainfort and Lynne P. Sullivan, pp. 195-233. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
2009 A Post-Hurricane Katrina Archaeological Site-Assessment Survey along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Coastal Environments, Inc., Baton Rouge. Submitted to Historic Preservation Division, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, and Transitional Recovery Office, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Biloxi.
2007 The Archaeology of Town Creek. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
2007 A Mississippian Ceramic Chronology for the Town Creek Region. North Carolina Archaeology 56:1-57.