Garden Creek site

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Garden Creek site
(31 HW 1-3) and (31 HW 7)
Garden Creek site is located in North Carolina
Garden Creek site
Location within North Carolina today
LocationHaywood County, North Carolina USA
RegionHaywood County, North Carolina
Coordinates35°31′1.96″N 82°50′45.02″W / 35.5172111°N 82.8458389°W / 35.5172111; -82.8458389
PeriodsPisgah Phase
CulturesSouth Appalachian Mississippian culture
Architectural stylesplatform mound, plaza
Architectural detailsNumber of temples: 2

Garden Creek site is an archaeological site located 24 miles (39 km) west of Asheville, North Carolina in Haywood County, at the confluence of the Pigeon River and Garden Creek[1] near Canton and the Pisgah National Forest. The site features two Pisgah Phase villages (31Hw7) and the three Garden Creek Mounds (31Hw1-3). The two villages located on the site were occupied from 600 CE to 1200 CE, first by Woodland period Hopewellian peoples and later by Pisgah Phase people of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture (a regional variation of the Mississippian culture).[2][3]

Pisgah phase artefacts "are widely thought to represent a continuum of cultural development through which historic Cherokee culture and communities took shape."[4] The earliest human occupation at the site dates to 8000 BCE.[1] After being surveyed in the 1960s, the site was largely destroyed by development of residential housing.

Site features[edit]

The 12-acre (49,000 m2) site includes two permanent villages with three earthwork mounds.[1] The largest village, designated 31Hw7, was located on a terrace overlooking Garden Creek, a tributary of the Pigeon River. A smaller village with a conical earthwork mound is located nearby.

Mound No. 1 is designed Hw 8 or 31Hw1, while Mound No. 2, located 1,000 feet (300 m) to the west of the first, is Hw 7 or 31Hw2.[5] The remains of Mound No. 3, Hw 3 or 31Hw3, is located on the site's south side and was excavated in 1915 by a team of the Heye Foundation. [6]

A wattle and daub post house was found at Mound 1.[4] Two earth lodges, rare in the Southern Appalachian Summit, were found at the site.[1] They formed the basis for one of the mounds.


Ground stone celts, made of peridotite and slate, were found in Garden Creek Mound 1.[7] Stone anvils, hammerstones, manos, and mortars were also unearthed,[8] as well as fragments of cut mica[9] and elbow-shaped clay smoking pipes.[10] Bone tools, such as awls, punches, and perhaps needles, were fashioned from deer and turkey bone splinters.[11] Turtle shell rattles, from Terrapene carolina shells and small round pebbles, were found in Mound No. 1.[12] Shell artifacts were sculpted from marine mollusk shells: large shell beads shaped into spheres or discs and strung into necklaces and bracelets were made from Busycon (or conch) columella. A single shell pin was found in Mound No. 1, as well as a conch bowl.[13] Mounds No. 1 and 2 held Marginella shells and conch shell gorgets. Several gorgets were incised with coiled rattlesnakes in the Lick Creek style, and one featured a stylized human figure.[14] Woven rivercane mats left impressions in Earth Lodge 2, and some charred remains were found on a house floor.[15] Although organic materials decompose rapidly in the Southern Appalachian climate, fragile textiles, such as cloth, netting, and cordage, could be detected by the impressions the textiles left on clay.[16] Two pieces of copper were found at the site.[5]

Archaeological surveys[edit]

In 1800 the Valentine Museum of Richmond, Virginia first excavated Garden Creek. George Gustav Heye also excavated the site from 1915 to 1919.[17] Heye did not take field notes or record provenance of artifacts taken from the site. The Research Laboratories of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina excavated Garden Creek from 1965 to 1967.[1]


The site and history of Garden Creek is indicated by North Carolina Highway Historical Marker P-83.[1] After being surveyed in the 1960s, the site has since been largely destroyed by a residential development.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Garden Creek." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program.(retrieved 11 July 2010)
  2. ^ "The Woodland and Mississippian Periods in North Carolina: The South Appalachian Mississippian Tradition: Pisgah Phase (A.D. 1000 - 1450)". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  3. ^ Rodning, Christopher B.; Moore, David G. South Appalachian and Protohistoric Mortuary Practices in Southwestern North Carolina (PDF). pp. 89–90.
  4. ^ a b Sullivan, Lynne P; Susan C. Prezzano (2001). Archaeology of the Appalachian Highlands. University of Tennessee Press. pp. 241–242. ISBN 978-1-57233-142-6.
  5. ^ a b "Notice of Inventory Completion for Native American Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects from North Carolina in the Possession of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC." Department of the Interior: National NAGPRA. Federal Register: August 9, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 152): Page 43,222-3 (retrieved 12 July 2010)
  6. ^ Dickens 69, 88
  7. ^ Dickens 138-9
  8. ^ Dickens 140, 142
  9. ^ Dickens 143
  10. ^ Dickens 144, 146
  11. ^ Dickens 150
  12. ^ Dickens 150, 156
  13. ^ Dickens 158
  14. ^ Dickens 164
  15. ^ Dickens 168-9
  16. ^ Dickens 169
  17. ^ Dickens 7


  • Dickens, Roy S. Cherokee Prehistory: The Pisgah Phase in the Appalachian Summit Region. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976. ISBN 0-87049-193-8.

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