I have conducted archaeological research for some 20+ years now in the Oconee River valley of north and central Georgia, almost exclusively on sites of the late prehistoric Mississippian period. This little valley in Athens' backyard has an incredibly rich human story to be told and exhibits one of the densest human occupations in a pre-state temperate region in the world. This story is perhaps most significant with respect to the growth and eventual decline of the native chiefdom societies in this region. From about 1100 A.D. until 1600 A.D. a series of mound centers--chiefly towns were established, flourished, and eventually died out. The complex story of these centers, and the thousands of associated farmsteads, has occupied almost all of my research time during these years. These centers include the Dyar, Scull Shoals, Shoulderbone, Little River, Shinholser, and Sawyer sites.
While the broad outlines of the Mississippian cultures in the Oconee Valley and their history have now become somewhat clearer, I have recently begun a more intense study of one of these sites in particular, Little River. This site is located in Morgan County, Georgia, and is apparently a tiny chiefly compound. These on-going excavations are important for helping us understand the workings of such a compound, both specifically in the Oconee Valley, and to the understanding of chiefdoms in the world beyond. My goal is to continue these excavations, actively involving University of Georgia Anthropology students, for several more years at least. This work is constantly being done in direct cooperation with my colleagues here in the Department, especially Ervan Garrison. He and his students, along with my own, have conducted fascinating and important remote-sensing studies at Little River, which will continue into the future.
Expertise & Interests
Archaeology of Georgia and the Southeastern United States
Ethnohistoric Analysis of the Southeastern American Indians
Evolution of Chiefdoms
Structure of Chiefly Compounds
Public Involvement in Archaeology
Collection Management and Curation
History of Georgia Archaeology
GIS Techniques in Archaeology
Linguistics and Archaeology
Applications of Electronic Techniques in Archaeology
Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Georgia 1983
- Williams, Mark. 2000. "Archaeological Site Distributions in Georgia; 2000." Early Georgia 28(1):1-55.