Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jay Franklin, Michael S. Zavada

Committee Members

Christopher Liu


Sediment samples were collected from 3 rock shelter sites and one natural pond on the Upper Cumberland Plateau. Samples were processed to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate pollen and charcoal abundance as well as other palaeobotanicals. The analysis was to determine when prehistoric Native Americans began controlled burns to enhance resources acquisition. Samples were also analyzed for the presence of pollen to determine vegetation changes that may accompany the use of controlled burns and to determine the onset of horticulture. The Upper Cumberland Plateau is often considered a marginal area used only seasonally by Native Americans; however, management practices may have been highly refined to maximize resources acquisition. Results show evidence of overt land management and usage of the area by Native Americans over several thousand years. Remains indicate reliance upon nut producing trees. This reliance led to land management practices designed to maximize availability of said resources.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Paleobiology Commons