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When: October 11 – 18, 2014
Where: Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi
Beginning in Memphis and following the Mississippi River south to Natchez, our journey travels through more than five thousand years of history – from ancient earthen mounds to Civil War battlefields.
As early as 3500 B.C. and for the next five thousand years, rich and complex moundbuilder cultures developed along the fertile Mississippi River Valley. But in the 1500s Spanish invasions led to a drastic decline in the native population.
Amidst the charm of the Old South and the magic of one of the world’s greatest rivers, our trip explores the region’s fascinating cultures.
Saturday, October 11
Join us in Memphis for a welcoming cocktail party and an introductory lecture with archaeologist Dr. Jeffrey Mitchem, who is stationed at Parkin Archaeological site and is an archaeologist with the Arkansas Archaeological Survey. We’ll spend the evening in Memphis.
Sunday, October 12
We’ll cross the river, following DeSoto’s route to Parkin, Arkansas. Today the 18-acre moated village is a state park. Then we’ll head to the McClellan-RitterSite, a Conservancy preserve that was occupied during the Woodland and Mississippian periods. Next we’ll go to Wilson to visit the Hampson Museum. We will return to our hotel in Memphis for the night.
Monday, October 13
We’ll depart the hotel and visit Chucalissa Mounds, which was occupied from approximately A.D. 1000 through 1500, and the C. H. Nash Museum located in the bluffs just below Memphis. We’ll head down the legendary Highway 61 to the Carson Mounds near Clarksdale, where the Mississippi Department of Archives and History is currently involved in a long term excavation project. From Clarksdale, we’ll go to Greenville, Mississippi for the night.
Tuesday, October 14
We’ll start the day with pastries, coffee and a lecture about the Watson Brake site, near Monroe, Louisiana, and then cross the Mississippi River again to visit these famous Archaic mounds, which the Conservancy helped preserve. This magnificent ancient mound complex dates to 3500 B.C. and is one of the earliest mound sites in North America. Next we’ll stop at Poverty Point, one of America’s most complex prehistoric sites, dating to 1700 B.C. We’ll spend the next two evenings in historic downtown Natchez, Mississippi.
Wednesday, October 15
In the morning, we’ll visit the Natchez visitor’s center and then tour the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, destroyed by the French in 1729. After lunch we’ll visit several pre-Civil War homes and enjoy a guided tour of the city given by local experts.
Thursday, October 16
First, we’ll visit Emerald Mound, the third largest Mississippian temple mound in the U.S., then head up the Natchez Trace to visit Windsor Ruins and Mounds. Then we’ll have lunch at the famous Lorman Country Store, which was featured on the Food Network and is said to have the best fried chicken in the South. Lunch will be followed by a trip to Prospect Hill plantation, one of the Conservancy’s newest preserves, with a rich antebellum history. Then we’ll continue north on Highway 61 to Vicksburg for the night.
Friday, October 17
First, we’ll visit Vicksburg Military Park, famous for its role in the Civil War, then we’ll travel back to Greenville to visit Winterville Mounds Park with director Mark Howell. Winterville is part of an ongoing research project by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the University of Southern Mississippi. Then we’ll head to Clarksdale for a good ole Delta Blues lunch at Ground Zero, actor Morgan Freeman’s famed Blues club. After lunch, we will take a driving tour of the many mound sites that were inhabited during the Mississippian Period, some of which are Conservancy preserves. We’ll end our day once again on the river, at the Tunica River Park Museum before returning to Memphis.
Saturday, October 18
Participants depart for home.
Cost includes hotel accommodations based on double occupancy (single supplement is $300), tour guides, fees, lunches, refreshments, cocktails and land transportation via air-conditioned bus with restroom. Not included is transportation to and from Memphis and meals other than lunches. The tour involves moderate walking.