Larry Nichols Finds in Tennessee

In the summer of 2003, Mr. Larry Nichols near Campbellsville in south central Ten- nessee contacted the author of this website to report artifacts he had found on his property.  The similarity of his material to that at Day's Knob is unmistakable, and seemed at the time to be remarkable considering the distance.  The immediate and most striking resemblance is in the small bird-shaped implements, ubiquitous at both sites.  There are some differences due to the lithic materials used:  The Nichols artifacts are made of the local chert, which provides for a sharper and more durable tool, but is less malleable, not allowing quite as fine a detailing.  For example, most of the explicit bird forms at Day's Knob include an eye at the appropriate location; many at the Nichols site have this, but not as consistently.  Essentially, these are the same tools.

Below:  Small tools at Day's Knob left, at Nichols find site right:

In itself, the seemingly obsessive incorporation of the bird form into even the smallest tools strongly suggests that the people occupying both Day's Knob and the Nichols site were of the same culture.  But the similarities by no means end at that point.  Sig- nificant among many other features common to both locations are the bird figures fashioned of clay.

Below: Clay bird at Day's Knob left, at Nichols site right.  Note that both display the recurring theme of one bird carrying another on its back.

Below:  The bird-human face appears at both sites with the full set of characteristic features:  a bird emerging from the mouth, one resting on top of the head, and the eye and the ear in the form of a bird - Day's Knob left (shown reversed for comparison), Nichols site right.

Below:  The bird-human in simplified form (mouth and eye only) appears consistently on hand tools both at Day's Knob (left) and at the Nichols site (right). 

Larry was very helpful in accelerating this author's understanding of the overall phe- nomenon.  Early on, this author became aware of an apparent bird motif in much of the Day's Knob assemblage, mainly in the apparently decorative objects and in the larger tools and sculptures.  Larry mentioned noticing the bird form in even his smallest tools, causing this author, whose intelligence is of the persistent but slow and plodding variety, to look more closely at his own material and recognize the incredible (and now rather obvious) fact that these people incorporated the bird image, either explicitly or abstractly, into almost everything they made.  Awareness of the ubiquitousness of the bird theme quickly led to recognition of the bird-human motif in many worked stones that had been thought to possibly represent animals.

In conjunction with Day's Knob, the Nichols finds and others that have since come to light are important in providing the "replicability" factor often considered essential to the validation of an individual archaeological site.

Top of Page

Click your browser's "Back" button to return to the point from which you entered this page.

HOME