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Dick Jefferies

Research Interests:
Prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies of the Southeastern and Midwestern United States; mortuary/ritual behavior in intermediate level societies
Mississippian settlement and subsistence systems; lithic analysis; cultural ecology; prehistoric economic and interaction systems
Spanish Mission period in the Southeastern United States.

B.A., Virginia, 1967; M.A., Georgia, 1975; Ph.D., Georgia, 1978


Archaeology, lithic analysis, cultural ecology, settlement archaeology; Spanish Mission period, Southeastern and Midwestern U.S.

Courses Taught

  • ANT 101: Introduction to Anthropology
  • ANT 221: Native People of North America
  • ANT 240: Introduction to Archaeology
    ANT 241  Origins of Old World Civilizations
  • ANT 242: Origins of New World Civilizations
  • ANT 342: North American Archaeology
  • ANT 351  Ohio Valley Archaeology
  • ANT 541: Archaeological Method and Theory
  • ANT 555: Archaeology of Eastern North America
  • ANT 582 Senior Integrative Seminar
  • ANT 585: Field School in Archaeology
  • ANT 602: Culture Dynamics and Change
  • ANT 612: Culture History
  • ANT 651: Archaeological Data Analysis (Lithics)
  • ANT 651: Archaeological Data Analysis (Ceramics)
  • ANT 654: Archaeology of Political Systems.
  • ANT 691: Cultural Resource Management Clerkship
  • ANT 770: Hunter-Gatherer Societies
  • ANT 770: Emergence of Cultural Complexity
  • ANT 770: Mississippian Chiefdoms
  • ANT 770: Middle Range Societies of Eastern North America
  • ANT 770: The Archaeology of Death

As an archaeologist, I have studied the prehistoric peoples of the Southeastern and Midwestern United States for more than 30 years. Long-term research interests include mid-to-late Holocene hunter-gatherers, Late Prehistoric societies along the Southeast's northern periphery, and Native American-Spanish interaction in coastal Georgia. My primary research focuses on the emergence of cultural complexity among mid-to-late Holocene (Archaic) hunter-gatherers of the Lower Ohio Valley. My initial interest in Archaic hunter-gatherers stems from work at the Black Earth site in southern Illinois.

Since coming to Kentucky more than 30 years ago, I have expanded my research area to include most of the North American midcontinent. Most recently, I have been investigating the social and economic organization of Lower Ohio Valley hunter-gatherer societies. Of particular interest is the formation of local- and regional-scale social networks within and between these increasingly complex hunter-gatherer societies, as reflected by artifact morphology and style. I am also investigating long-term changes in Archaic hunter-gatherer landscape utilization and demography. I continue to do research on the Late Prehistoric Mississippian chiefdoms that once existed along the northern periphery of the Southeast. I am particularly interested in the nature of social/economic interaction between the Mississippian chiefdoms of southeastern Kentucky and contemporary Fort Ancient, Dallas, and Pisgah societies that inhabited adjacent parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.

In 2003, I initiated a new research program that is studying Mission period Native American (Guale)-Spanish interaction in the coastal Southeast. These investigations are focusing on several sites located on Sapelo Island, one of the Georgia Sea Islands. I am specifically interested in changes in Guale community organization and subsistence during the Mission period and the intensity and nature of interaction and exchange between the Guale Indians and the Spanish. For more information about the Sapelo Island Mission Period Archaeological Project, see:…

I have participated in more than 80 months (1972-2021) of archaeological fieldwork that includes planning and conducting large regional-scale archaeological surveys, excavation of Middle Archaic-Late Prehistoric habitation sites, investigation of Middle Woodland ritual sites, and mapping and excavating large Late Archaic and Mission perioed sites. This work has taken place in Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Exchange and interaction, social networks, lithic analysis, the emergence of cultural complexity, cultural ecology, prehistoric hunter-gatherers of the North American midcontinent.


Honors and Awards

2008     College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award
2008     Finalist, Provost Teaching Award for Tenured Faculty
2012     College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor
2016     University of Kentucky College of Education’s Teachers Who Made a Difference Award
2018     Southeastern Archaeological Conference Lifetime Achievement Award

Selected Publications:


Blair, Elliot H., Richard W. Jefferies and Christopher R. Moore  2021  Itineraries and Networks of the Mission San Joseph de Sapala Beads. In Personal Ornaments and the Construction of Identity: A Global Archaeological Perspective, edited by Hannah V. Mattson, pp. 115-134. Oxbow Books. Barnsley, UK.

Thompson, Victor D., Richard W. Jefferies, and Christopher R. Moore  2019  Radiocarbon Dating and Bayesian Analysis in American Historical Archaeology.  Historical Archaeology 53(1):181-192.

Jefferies, Richard W.  2018  Population Aggregation and the Emergence of Circular Villages in Southwest Virginia. In The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America, edited by Jennifer Birch and Victor Thompson, pp. 140-159. University Press of Florida.

Jefferies, Richard W., and Mark Williams  2018  Santo Domingo de Talaje: Resurrecting a Seventeenth-Century Spanish Mission at Darien Bluff, Georgia.  Southeastern Archaeology 37:204-231.

Jefferies, Richard W., and Christopher R.   2017.    Mission San Joseph de Sapala: 17th Century Franciscan Mission Efforts on Sapelo Island, Georgia. In Franciscan Florida in Pan-Borderlands Perspective: Adaptation, Negotiation, and Resistance, edited Jeffrey M. Burns. Academy of American Franciscan History, Oceanside, CA. 

Moore, Christopher R., and Richard W. Jefferies 2017.    Maintaining Relations with Deer: A Day-in-the-Life in the Middle Archaic. In The Archaeology of Everyday Matters, edited by Sarah E. Price and Philip J. Carr.  In press. The University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Bean, Ethan A., Christopher R. Moore, and Richard W. Jefferies 2016.    A Systematic Survey of the Multi-Component Site 9mc501 on Sapelo Island, Georgia. Early Georgia. In press, September 2016.

Moore, Christopher R., and Richard W. Jefferies 2015.    The Paired Hemiconical Punctate Motif: A Possible Diagnostic Mission Period Decoration from Sapelo Island, Georgia. Early Georgia 42(2):155-164.

Jefferies, Richard W.  2014.    The Archaeology of Carrier Mills: 10,000 Years in the Saline Valley of Illinois. Redwood Audiobooks/University Press Audiobooks. Audio book of 2014 edition.

Moore, Christopher R., and Richard W. Jefferies   2014.    Who Were the Guale? Reevaluating Interaction in the Mission Town of San Joseph de Sapala. In Indigenous Landscapes and Spanish Missions: New Perspectives from Archaeology and Ethnohistory, edited by, Lee M. Panich and Tsim D. Schneider, pp. 79-92. University of Arizona Press.

Jefferies, Richard W. 2014.   The Archaeology of Carrier Mills: 10,000 Years in the Saline Valley of Illinois. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. Paperback edition of 1987 book.

Jefferies, Richard W., George R. Milner, and Edward Henry 2013.    Winchester Farm: A Small Adena Enclosure in Central Kentucky.  In Early and Middle Woodland Landscapes of the Southeast, edited by Alice Wright and Edward Henry, pp. 91-107.  University Press of Florida.

Jefferies, Richard W., Christopher R. Moore 2013.    Mission San Joseph de Sapala: Mission Period Archaeological Research on Sapelo Island.  In Life among the Tides: Recent Archaeology on the Georgia Bight, edited by Victor D. Thompson and David Hurst Thomas, pp. 345-374. American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers, Number 98. New York.

Jefferies, Richard W., and Christopher R. Moore 2010.    Recent Investigations of Mission Period Activity on Sapelo Island, Georgia. In Archaeological Encounters in Georgia’s Spanish     Period, 1526-1700, edited by Dennis B. Blanton and Robert DeVillar, pp.67-85. Joint Publication of the Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, and Perspective 5(1) and the Society for Georgia Archaeology (Special Publication 2).

Jefferies, Richard W.  2009.    Archaic Cultures of Western Kentucky. In Archaic Societies: Diversity and Complexity Across the Midcontinent, edited by Thomas Emerson, Dale McElrath, and Andrew Fortierpp. 635-665.  State University of New York Press, Albany.

Jefferies, Richard W.  2009.    Settling Down in the Midwest: Ancient Hunter-Gatherer Sedentism. In Archaeology in America: An Encyclopedia, Vol 2: Midwest and Great Plains/Rocky Mountains, edited by Frank McManamon, pp. 34-35.  Greenwood Publishing Group. Westport, CT.

Jefferies, Richard W.  2009. Holocene Hunter-Gatherers of the Lower Ohio River Valley. University of Alabama Press. Tuscaloosa. (Book released in July, 2009). Reviews: Journal of Field Archaeology 35(2):259-263; Lithic Technology 40:249-250.  

Jefferies, Richard W., Victor D. Thompson, George R. Milner, Renee M. Bonzani, and Tanya Peres 2007. Cypress Creek Villages Revisited: Archaic Settlement and Subsistence in the Cypress Creek Watershed.   In Current Archaeological Research in Kentucky, Volume Eight, edited by Sarah E. Miller, David Pollack, Kenneth Carstens, and Christopher R. Moore, pp. 37-75. Kentucky Heritage Council.  Frankfort.

Jefferies, Richard W.  2006.   Death Rituals at the Tunacunnhee Site: A Middle Woodland Mortuary Camp and Mound Complex in Northwestern Georgia. In Recreating Hopewell, edited by Douglas Charles and Jane Buikstra.  The University Press of Florida.

Jefferies, Richard W., Victor D. Thompson, and George R. Milner   2005.  Archaic Hunter-Gatherer Landscape Use in West-Central Kentucky. Journal of Field Archaeology: 3-23.

Thompson, Victor, Matthew Reynolds, Brian Haley, Richard Jefferies, Jay Johnson, and Catherine Humphries 2004. The Sapelo Shell Rings Site: Remote Sensing on a Georgia Sea Island.  Southeastern Archaeology 23:192-201.

Jefferies, Richard W.  2004.  Regional Cultures of the Southeast - 700 B.C. - A.D. 1000.  In Handbook of North American Indians (Southeast), edited by R. D. Fogelson, pp. 115-127. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Jefferies, Richard W.  2004.  Regional Scale Interaction Networks and the Emergence of Cultural Complexity along the Northern Margins of the Southeast.  In Signs of Power: The Rise of Cultural Complexity in the Southeast, edited by Philip Carr and Jon Gibson, pp. 71-85. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Milner, George R., and Richard W. Jefferies 1998.  The Read Shell Mound: An Archaic Shell Midden in Kentucky. Southeastern Archaeology 17:119-132.

Jefferies, Richard W.  1997.  Middle Archaic Bone Pins: Evidence for the Formation of Regional-Scale Social Networks among Mid-Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Societies. American Antiquity 62(3):464-487.

Jefferies, Richard W., Emanuel Breitburg, Jennifer Flood, and Margaret Scarry 1996.  Mississippian Adaptation along the Northern Periphery: A View from the Croley-Evans Site.  Southeastern Archaeology 15:1-28.

Jefferies, Richard W.  1987. The Archaeology of Carrier Mills: 10,000 Years in the Saline Valley of Illinois. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. Reviews: American Anthropologist 90:174; American Antiquity 53:88