Contact: Gabrielle Maxey
July 7, 2014 - Ancient Native American artifacts shed light on what life may have
been like at the end of the last great Ice Age 10,000 years ago. A $40,000 grant from
the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a program of the National
Park Service, will allow University of Memphis professors Ryan Parish, David Dye and
Ying Sing Li to analyze artifacts from central Tennessee. The goal is to understand
how people used stone resources and adapted to warmer climates.
Stone was important for some early inhabitants of Tennessee, who used it for everyday
tools and hunting equipment. The U of M research team is developing new technologies
that can identify where Native Americans got their stone resources. The data then
can be used to record past migrations and identify how this may have changed over
time with stabilizing climate conditions.
The reflectance spectroscopy techniques utilized in the study are non-destructive
and provide a balance between research and preservation concerns. The project will
fill a gap in the knowledge of how prehistoric people lived and used the natural resources
“The resulting data will tell us how these terminal Ice Age hunter-gatherers moved
around the land, potentially identify individual band groups, and show us how their
territories may have decreased over time as the climate and ecosystems stabilized
with the warming modern-day climate,” Parish said.
Parish, the principal investigator, is an assistant professor of archaeology. Dye
is a professor of archaeology and Li is a professor of chemistry; they are co-principal
The research project will be carried out over the course of a year.