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KHC Archaeology Conference

The Kentucky Heritage Council (KHC) is the State Historic Preservation Office and an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. KHC is responsible for the identification, protection, and preservation of prehistoric resources and historic buildings, sites, and cultural resources throughout the Commonwealth.

The annual KHC Archaeology Conference is hosted by staff each year to highlight the cultural resources of the Commonwealth. Open to the public, professionals in the field of historic preservation are invited to give presentations on current projects in Kentucky. 

38th Annual Archaeology Conference: March 1-6, 2021 

Due to the global pandemic, the 38th annual conference will be held virtually. All papers, posters, and events may be accessed through this webpage. If you have any questions, please contact Vanessa Hanvey at vanessa.hanvey@ky.gov

Virtual Attendance 

Attendance to and engagement with the 38th Annual KHC Archaeology Conference is open to the public and free. All conference papers, posters, and events will be virtual and may be accessed through this webpage. The following virtual platforms will be used: 

YouTube – All paper presentations will be viewable on YouTube. Viewers are encouraged to leave questions or comments in the Chat. Private links for each presentation are available below under the Conference Papers and Posters section. 

A virtual tour of the Saltpetre Cave at Carter Caves State Park will be premiered live on YouTube. More information about the tour and a link to the event is available below under the Conference Events section. 

Zoom – All other live events will be held on the Zoom Virtual Meeting platform. If you do not have a Zoom account, signup for free. Information about live events is available below under the Conference Events section.  

Facebook – Please be on the lookout for conference updates on the Kentucky Heritage Council Facebook page

Conference Events 

Monday, March 1 

Recorded paper presentations will be available for viewing on the KHC Archaeology Conference YouTube channel. Posters will be viewable on this webpage. Abstracts, authors, and private links to each paper and poster may be accessed below in the Conference Papers and Posters section. 

Friday, March 5 

1:00 PM (EST) – Virtual Tour of the Saltpetre Cave at Carter Caves Resort State Park  

Led by Susan Neumeyer of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, this tour focuses on her thesis research into the saltpeter mining for the War of 1812. This will be a premier event on the Carter Caves State Resort Park YouTube channel as the tour was filmed during the Summer of 2020 when the cave was closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Viewers are encouraged to engage in discussion or pose questions to Ms. Neumeyer in the chat during this live event! For more information about this event, please email Vanessa Hanvey at vanessa.hanvey@ky.gov


Saturday, March 6 

11:00 AM (EST) – Living Archaeology Weekend (LAW) Virtual Video Series 

The LAW steering committee will introduce its new video series and premiere the pilot episode, "American Indian Textiles," during this live event. For more than 30 years LAW has been the largest annual public archaeology event in Kentucky offering demonstrations on American Indian and pioneer technologies. If you would like more information about this event, please email Dr. Gwynn Henderson at Gwynn.Henderson@wku.edu

Link: Request a link to this event by emailing vanessa.hanvey@ky.gov  

1:00 PM (EST) – Question and Answer Session with Authors 

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to talk with the authors of papers and posters during this live event. If you would like more information about this event, please email Vanessa Hanvey at vanessa.hanvey@ky.gov

Link: Request a link to this event by emailing vanessa.hanvey@ky.gov   

3:00 PM (EST) – Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologist (KYOPA) Business Meeting 

Open to current and soon-to-be members of KYOPA, this meeting will be held on Zoom. If you would like more information about this event, please email Duane Simpson at duane.simpson@cardno.com

Link: Request a link to this event by emailing vanessa.hanvey@ky.gov   


Conference Papers and Posters 

If Dishes Were Fishes, We’d All Swim in Riches: “Normcore” as de Rigueur during Appalachia’s China Mania 

Author: Zada L. Komara, University of Kentucky 
Abstract: Sensational material representations have helped construct Appalachia as a ‘region of need,’ lagging developmentally in terms of market access and cosmopolitanism. Appalachian residents and their material environments have largely been portrayed through the lens of poverty. Household material goods have symbolized cultural retardation and discourse has largely imagined primitive homes marked by either a paucity or excess of consumer goods. Popular and academic understandings have largely held that tastes, ownership, and acquisition of mass-produced consumer goods have been largely dictated by economic scarcity and outside influencers. Material studies from archaeology and other historical social sciences construct the region differently. Appalachians women, both rural and urban, were integral to the market economy and drove the consumer revolution alongside the rest of the nation during the Industrial Age. Ceramic dishes abounded, becoming central to the desires, décor, and dining practices of American households during the “china mania” of the early 20th century. Middle-class tastes became de rigueur: the consumer desires of economically middling housewives set the day’s tastes and fashions. Appalachian women consumed ceramic dinner and teawares with considerable finesse, using and displaying gold-lustered plates, rose-decaled tea sets, and plain white settings in creative concert. Colorful porcelain tea sets lent a touch of elegance to women’s casual lunches and teas and the sanitary white lines of plain everyday dinner plates embraced modern scientific householding. Oral history interviews and archaeological excavations of a town dump in the coal mining town of Jenkins in Eastern Kentucky (ca. 1911-1946) reveal both the flamboyance and humility of ceramic dishes and the agency of women consumers. Dishes sparkled in china cabinets and humbly framed meals, entangled with Appalachian women in the mutual constitution of gender, class, taste, and modernity. 


Rock Shelter Rituals in Kentucky 

Author: Cheryl Claassen, Appalachian State University 
Abstract: Rock shelters in eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina contain evidence of several types of rituals described in this paper.  These rituals involve turtle carapaces, turkeys, bifaces, sandals, weavings, naiads, ash, burial, stone caches, and profuse fauna, as well as the rock shelter context. They appear to be related to family and lineage increase, medicine and to purification. 


The Prevallett-McLain Site: Forgotten but not Gone 

Author: Anne Bader, Corn Island Archaeology 
Abstract: The Prevallet-McClain site (15SP243) in Spencer County, once the focus of intense collector activity in the 1960s and 1970s, was formally studied by the University of Louisville in 1974, and later by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in 1977. Since then, it has remained virtually forgotten, and through the passage of time, has been assumed to have been destroyed. As a result, impacts have inadvertently occurred to this National Register-eligible site. In 2020, new investigations show that the site still contains significant intact deposits ranging through from the Early Archaic through the Terminal Archaic, as well as an Archaic cemetery. A re-examination of the lithics recovered from the 1960s and 1970s, reveals a connection to the Falls of the Ohio area and a pattern of use of Muldraugh chert that reflects differences throughout the Archaic period. The site highlights the need for a more aggressive plan to protect unmarked Native American cemeteries. 


Using 3D and 2D Geometric Morphometrics to Analyze Beveling on Bifacial Stone Points 

Authors: Thomas A. Jennings (1), Ashley M. Smallwood (1), Heather L. Smith (2), Jacob Ray (1), Devin Stephens (1) 
1. Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, Department of Anthropology, University of Louisville 
2. Department of Anthropology, Texas State University 
Abstract: In eastern North America, the Late Paleoindian Dalton period marks an important transition in projectile point technology. For the first time, hunter-gatherers modified point blade margins with serrations and beveling, techniques that persist in the record into the early Holocene. Recent advancements in geometric morphometrics analyses offer new methods to help understand the functional and evolutionary implications of these changes. In this paper, we briefly review recent approaches to studying variation in shape and form in projectile points and highlight technological and morphological traits that might serve as useful variables for identifying beveling. We then apply 3D and 2D geometric morphometrics to a sample of Dalton points from Illinois and Kentucky to explore how these techniques can be used to understand the morpohological and technological implications of point beveling. 


Historic Period Communities in Western Mason County, Kentucky: Stories from a Three-Mile Stretch of a Rural Roadway 

Author: Darlene Applegate, Western Kentucky University 
Abstract: Recent research for Phase I survey along a three-mile segment of Dover-Minerva Road in western Mason County revealed fascinating information about the families and communities who lived, farmed, worshipped, and worked here since the 1790s. The Bracken Baptist Church building and the gravesite of its famous founder are tangible reminders of the birth of a Baptist association and the internal struggles within the congregation that reflected national trends. A heavy timber saddlebag house may have served as an early tavern or stagecoach stop on the old turnpike. A small unassuming building resembling a tenant house turned out to be the oldest school building in the area, the first of several important educational institutions that produced scholars including a US Supreme Court Justice. A cluster of buildings reflect the spiritual and educational lives of African-American residents, where resided the first Black female to attend Morehead State University. A T-plan house is on the farm owned and operated by the same family for more than a century. Various properties illustrate the life of a land-owning 19th-century woman. The homes, farmsteads, and businesses of German immigrants reflect a second wave of settlement and prosperity in the area. These and other cultural resources, and the archival evidence associated with them, help to tell the amazing stories of diverse groups of past people, stories that no doubt are repeated along countless other three-mile stretches of roadways across the state. 



Current Archaeological Research in Kentucky 

If you would like to read previous papers presented at the KHC Annual Archaeology Conference, please visit the Current Archaeological Research in Kentucky publications

Since 1983, KHC staff have published papers presented at the annual archaeology conference. Presented as a series of professional publications, these papers cover a broad range of topics relating to Kentucky archaeology. These publications highlight current research and exploration of Kentucky's archaeological resources. 


Call for Submissions 

Turn your current or previous KHC paper into a submission for Current Archaeological Research in Kentucky! More information may be found on our Submissions page. Editors are seeking submission for Volume 11 and a special issue focusing broadly on Western Kentucky.