Candies Creek Village Archaeological Preserve , also known as the Jim Sharp Archaeological Preserve.
In 1996 the University of Tennessee archaeologists, led by Charles Bentz of the Transportation Center, surveyed the proposed subdivision after being alerted by member of the Southeastern Native American Alliance to the possibility of Cherokee graves in the area. Much to the archaeologists surprise among the rolling hills near Cleveland, TN, some 20 miles Northeast of Chattanooga, the search for a few unmarked graves uncovered an entire Mississippian town, A.D. 1000-1200, including evidence of a palisade.
Understanding the site’s importance and benefits of its preservation, Jim Sharp, the developer, agreed to sell the five acres for a price well below market value to the Archaeological Conservancy. The sale was completed in 2001. After the initial survey, additional testing determined the extent of what appeared to be a large village, not a cemetery. A series of shallow test trenches excavated by a backhoe exposed numerous artifacts, human remains, and dozen of features, including postholes, middens, and house floors, and evidence for not one but two palisades from the Mississippian period. The presence of colonial ceramics also seemed to indicate the area’s later use as a Cherokee homestead. Day by day the archaeologists carefully recorded each new site feature, while at night members of the Southeast Native American Alliance guarded the site against looters.
Because plowing and looting have had minimal effect on the site, all structural features and most of the artifacts discovered and mapped by UT investigators remain undisturbed, and local tribes have reconsecrated the human burials. “Since fewer and fewer of these sites remain, it is extremely exciting that a previously undocumented site has been found almost perfectly intact, and that the site can be saved from destruction,” says Mark Michel president of the Conservancy.
Featured in American Archaeology magazine, Vol.2 No.1, Spring 1998