Since last week, a team of archaeologists and Middle Tennessee State University students has hewn a trench about 10 feet deep into the cool clay of a suburban Williamson County backyard, bringing out bags of bone fragments and stones once used perhaps as axes or other implements.
Those bits and pieces — some no bigger than a coffee cup, others smaller than coins — are a once-in-a-lifetime discovery, revealing the historical importance of the Middle Tennessee region to understanding prehistoric man and his world.
“People overlook Tennessee when it comes to archaeology,” said Tanya Peres, MTSU associate professor of anthropology. “There’s some really amazing archaeology here. Maybe this is the kind of thing that will get into schoolbooks.”
The team has likely found bones belonging to a mastodon — elephant-like creatures with massive tusks related to wooly mammoths. If the dig’s findings are authenticated, state Prehistoric Archaeologist Aaron Deter-Wolf hopes to snare a designation for this site on the National Register of Historic Places as an archaeological resource. Only a handful of sites in North America have been known to have mastodons.