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Home North Carolina Haywood County City of Canton Historical Markers Garden Creek

Garden Creek

NC-110, Canton, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Cherokee villages and mounds 1/3 mile west a key site for archaeologists. Occupied from 8000 B.C. to 1600s A.D."
     Just south of Canton, at the confluence of Garden Creek and the Pigeon River, lies Garden Creek archaeological site. It consists of three mounds and two villages on a tract of about twelve acres. There have been three primary periods of research at the site, in 1880 by Valentine Museum of Richmond, Virginia; digs in 1915 led by George G. Heye; and 1965-67 investigations by the Research Laboratories of Anthropology of the University of North Carolina. The earliest work at the site was, regrettably, under-documented. The most noteworthy event during the nineteenth century research was the fact that the locals began to craft fake “artifacts” to sell to the representatives of the Valentine Museum. Heye left no field notes and did not record the provenance of specimens collected. The UNC research, however, helped answer important questions about the prehistory of the Cherokee Indians. Investigation of the mounds revealed occupation between 8000 B.C. and the 1600s A.D.

     It was stratigraphic evidence revealed in the 1960s that established the sequence of the prehistoric Cherokee archaeological units that had been previously identified at various sites. Garden Creek contained clearly separated levels of earth indicating distinct periods of dwelling at or near the compound. Another result of the archaeological work at Garden Creek was identification of artifacts from a group indigenous to Ohio. The finding established that there was cultural contact between the Middle Woodland Connestee period peoples of Garden Creek and the Hopewell people of Ohio. Also from the Middle Woodland Connestee period at Garden Creek, two earth lodges were excavated. Such semi-subterranean structures are a rare find. Garden Creek has been enormously productive in terms of establishing Southern Appalachian prehistory.

Bennie C. Keel, Cherokee Archaeology: A Study of the Appalachian Summit (1976)
Roy S. Dickens, Cherokee Prehistory: The Pisgah Phase in the Appalachian Summit Region (1976)
H. Trawick Ward and R. P. Stephen Davis Jr., Time Before History: The Archaeology of North Carolina (1999)