Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 59 Number 1: 5-9 - April 1997

A publication of the National Speleological Society

The Chronology of Early Agriculture and Intensive Mineral Mining in the Salts Cave and Mammoth Cave Region, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mary C. Kennedy and Patty Jo Watson


During the past 30 years, 57 radiocarbon determinations have been obtained from Salts and Mammoth Caves in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. These range from 4120 ±70 BP to 1920 ±160 BP, thus falling within the Late Archaic and Woodland periods of North American prehistory. We discuss the patterning of the dates, which cluster in two groups (Late Archaic, ca. 4200 BP to 3000 BP) and Early Woodland (ca. 2800 BP to 2200 BP). We also address the implications of those patterns for the history of aboriginal cave exploration and cave mineral mining in the Salts Cave and Mammoth Cave portions of the world’s longest cave system, and for the development of early agriculture in Eastern North America.

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