Prehistory and the native Indians
Spear marks on the excavated bones of mastodons provide evidence that the first people were in Middle Tennessee soon after the end of the Ice Age-over 15,000 years ago.
In the first panel of Alcove I, Ridley illustrates the earliest known period of human activity by showing only the animals: the native black bear, the elk and the bison, all known to have freely roamed this area.
Panel 2 shows the first settled people, the Woodland hunter-gatherers (about 450-900 A.D.) who left behind carved stone bowls, animal effigies and pipes of surprising artistry. At right: bringing down a mastodon. At left: preparing a feast.
Panel 3 depicts the Mississippian people (about 900-1600 A.D.) who built pyramidal burial and ceremonial mounds along the Harpeth River and throughout much of middle and west Tennessee.
Panel 4 depicts the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes who inhabited some of the same sites after the demise of the Mississippian civilization.
Panel 5 portrays Tennessee's primordial dense forests, limestone bluffs, and flowing rivers undisturbed by settler homesteads.
Alcove 2: Early Settlement of Tennessee