Jonathan Creek is a large Mississippian mound center on the west bank of the Tennessee River. Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), working through the University of Kentucky, conducted research at the site beginning in 1940. This work was carried out prior to the construction of Kentucky Lake. With America’s entry into World War II in 1942, the men were drafted and work stopped.
Over the course of fieldwork, CCC workers excavated less than one-quarter of the site. They investigated all or portions of more than 70 houses and documented a series of stockades that encircled the mound center. They also recorded the locations of several platform mounds and burial mounds.
Native peoples lived at the Jonathan Creek community from around 1200 to 1300 AD. They laid it out like other Mississippian mound centers: structures arranged around an open plaza flanked by earthen mounds. A stockade studded with bastions enclosed the site on three sides (a bastion is a fortified stockade spur. It offered a platform from which defenders could repel attacks).
The Jonathan Creek stockades represented a sequence of construction, repair, and dismantling of the community's outer wall. Shifting stockade placement reflected either the community’s growth or a southward shift of its center.
The presence of stockades clearly reflects residents' concern for safety and security. The builders of the last - and outer most - stockade made a show of power in its impressive height and length.
Diverse House Styles
Residents of Jonathan Creek built two different kinds of rectangular houses. Most were single-set post houses. About one-tenth, however, were wall-trench houses. Throughout most of the lower Ohio and central Mississippi valleys, single-set post houses predate wall-trench structures, with the latter increasing in popularity after 1200 AD.
The primary difference between the two house styles is that single-set posts are driven into the ground, while posts in a wall-trench house are set in a trench that is then filled with earth. Variation in house style may reflect differences between conservative households, who wanted to hang on to the old ways, and perhaps younger households, who wanted to adopt a new architectural style.
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