Introduction

Abstract

Technology inevitably plays an essential role in the future of archaeology and preservation. As excavation costs continue to increase, the ever improving technological advancements in remote sensing and 3-dimensional modeling will prove indispensable, especially as the world population continues to grow and become increasingly urban, threatening past, present, and future cultural heritage sites. This project works with digital data and a sample of Indian mound sites in the Mississippi Delta in order to develop a methodology for digitally documenting and archiving archaeological sites for the public via the internet. The sites are part of a larger set of sites with which the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) are working to create a cultural Mississippi Mound Trail (MMT) throughout the state. The methodology developed for creating a virtual model of the terrain involves downloading a digital elevation model (DEM); processing it in and exporting it from Esri ArcMap; importing it to L3DT to create a terrain texture and exporting it as a mesh; uploading the compressed mesh file to Sketchfab.com, and embedding the model viewer into a website created with the Google Sites product. The methodology developed for hosting pictures of the sites involves taking a series of digital photographs from several points at each site, organizing the pictures by location, creating a shapefile in ArcMap of the points from which the pictures were taken, creating maps for each site and location, and uploading them to a website using Google Picasa.

Project Description

For this thesis project, the focus is on utilizing various remotely sensed and physically gathered spatial, visual, and historical information in order to create interactive photographic tours and virtual models for prehistoric sites in Mississippi, both as the sites are currently and how they would look today without modern buildings and overgrowth. A website hosts the interactive virtual reconstructions, site maps, background information, historic photographs, and modern photographs.

Research is being conducted on nineteen prehistoric mound sites in the southern Delta region of Mississippi chosen by Dr. H. E. Jackson, research head for this area, as the sites that are most accessible and would benefit from further research. The final product of this portion of the research will be a virtual tour of each prehistoric mound site located in the Mississippi Delta region, as a part of the MMT project, funded by MDOT and MDAH. The sites from the project on which this research focuses are in the region between Vicksburg and Greenville, located in the counties of Humphreys, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren, Washington, and Yazoo (Table 1 below). Though all of the sites have been previously surveyed in some manner, not all of the sites have been thoroughly excavated, so the time periods of the sites are not final assertions as there may very well be more occupations evident than already noted (Tables 1 and 2 below). Most every site includes extensive photographic documentation and a simple terrain model, though there are a few exceptions. Original field notes, photographs, and site maps for many of the sites are available from the LMS Archives Online, and Phillips' (1970) collection of site surveys that add a great deal about the background information already known and inferred about the sites included in the study area. Historic photographs from the LMS Online Archive are included on the website where available.

This website is built using the free web development tool and host Google Sites and is designed with the CyArk website (cyark.org) as a loose template because of its high standard of organization and digital preservation of cultural heritage sites. This website project is in hopes of expanding knowledge and interest of site protection to the general public, particularly the residents and visitors of Mississippi, so that preservation and tourism efforts can be augmented. Researchers will also be able to use these models in order to see virtual interpretations of several prehistoric Mississippi archaeological sites, in addition to the possible spatial relationships that may be present in site elements, layouts, and distributions.


Use the links in the sidebar to the left to view the information, pictures, and virtual models of each site.

Table 1

Prehistoric Mound Sites in Mississippi Delta Area of Interest

Site Name County County Code Site Number  Time Period (Phase)
 Anguilla Sharkey  SH  510 
 Arcola Washington  WS  516  Deer Creek 
 Belzoni Humphreys  HU  500  Deasonville, Mississippian 
 Carter Sharkey  SH  532  Deer Creek, Aden 
 Cary Sharkey  SH  507   Mississippian
 Dornbusch Warren  WR  510 
 Grace Issaquena  IS  500  Deer Creek, Mayersville 
 Hardee Issquena  IS  502  Mayersville 
 Haynes Bluff Warren  WR  501  Aden, Mayersville, Deer Creek 
 Jaketown Humphreys  HU  505  Late Archaic through Mississippian 
 Lake George Yazoo  YZ  557  Baytown, Coles Creek 
 Law Washington  WS  549  Deer Creek 
 Leland Washington  WS  501  Deerk Creek 
 Linden Washington  WS  551 
 Mont Helena Sharkey  SH  505  Coles Creek, Aden 
 Magee Sharkey  SH  501  Mississippian 
 Rolling Fork Sharkey  SH  506  Deer Creek 
 Swan Lake Washington  WS  518  Issaquena, Deasonville, Aden, Mayersville, Deer Creek 
 Winterville Washington  WS  500  Baytown, Mayersville, Deer Creek 

Information from LMS Archives Online; Phillips 1970; Jackson 2008; Jackson 2013; Brain 1989; MDAH; Ford, Phillips, and Haag 1955; Perrault et al. 1999.


Table 2

Prehistoric Chronology, from Middle Archaic to Mississippian

 Period  Culture Complex Years Before Present  Calendrical Years 
Proto-historic  Wasp Lake  350 to 500  1500 to 1650 CE 
 Mississippian Lake George  500 to 650  1350 to 1500 CE 
   Winterville, Mayersville 650 to 800  1200 to 1350 CE 
 Late Woodland: Coles Creek Crippen Point
(Includes Deer Creek) 
800 to 1000  1000 to 1200 CE 
   Kings Crossing 1000 to 1100  900 to 1000 CE 
   Aden 1100 to 1200  800 to 900 CE
Late Woodland: Baytown Bayland 1200 to 1300 700 to 800 CE 
   Deasonville 1300 to 1600  400 to 700 CE
 Middle Woodland: Marksville Issaquena  1600 to 1800  200 to 400 CE 
   Hopewell 1725 to 2225  225 BCE to 275 CE 
   Miller 1900 to 2100  100 BCE to 100 CE 
 Early Woodland: Tchula Tchefuncte  2000 to 2800  800 BCE to 1 CE 
 Late Archaic Poverty Point  3800 to 4500  2500 to 1800 BCE 
 Middle Archaic Watson Brake  5800 to 6300  4300 to 3800 BCE 

Information from Anderson and Sassaman 2012 and Jackson 2013.