Archaeological Studies Group

Townsend, Blount County

Townsend's location is shown here by a blue star.

Project: Phase I Archaeological Survey, Phase II Archaeological Testing of Five Sites, and Phase III Data Recovery of Four Sites in Townsend, Blount County, Tennessee.

Townsend photo index.
Take a photo tour of Townsend.

The Center for Transportation Research at The University of Tennessee conducted archaeological investigations for nearly three years in Townsend (Tuckaleechee Cove) for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). The work was undertaken in association with the improvement of a section of State Route 73 (U.S. 321) in Tuckaleechee Cove. The Townsend Archaeological Project was the largest archaeological project ever carried out for TDOT in the entire state and the most important archaeological project in East Tennessee in the past thirty years. The TDOT project area was 7.9 km (4.9 miles) in length and the right-of-way width was 100 m (305 feet). The former two lane highway and adjacent drainage ditches took up about 20% of the 100 m wide right-of-way. The highway has been improved to a four or five lane roadway with adjacent sidewalks as well as pedestrian causeways under the new road.


Chuck Bentz was the Archaeologist-in-General Charge of the Townsend Archaeological Project.

Tuckaleechee Cove is located adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is approximately 53 km (33 miles) southeast of Knoxville. The town of Townsend is within the Cove. The Little River flows through Tuckaleechee Cove and has formed flat bottomlands and terraces that were utilized by Native Americans for camp sites and villages over thousands of years until the mid-1700s. The archaeological remains of these habitations, as evidenced in the Townsend Archaeological Project, included thousands of cooking and storage pits, dozens of dwellings, and palisaded or fortified village areas.

Feature 763

Three stages of archaeological investigations have been conducted in the project area for nearly three years. Phase I survey was the first stage of the work and involved locating archaeological sites in the right-of-way. Seven sites were identified by artifacts recovered from shovel tests and surface collections. Five of the sites were investigated during the second stage of the work, Phase II testing. A backhoe was used to remove plow disturbed soils to expose cooking and storage pits and the remains of dwellings. A 10-20% sample of each site was excavated during the testing. The purpose of the testing was to determine if the sites are significant or important. Phase III data recovery was the third and final stage of the work and involved exposure of site areas within the right-of-way through the backhoe excavation of large block areas. Data recovery was conducted on four sites that were determined by the testing to be significant.

Hand Troweling

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Go on a photo tour of the Townsend Archaeological Project.

This page was last updated on 20 Jan 2002.

For comments please send email to Chuck Bentz