Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Shelby Hobbs



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Earth Sciences



Committee Chair

Andrew Mickelson

Committee Member

Katherine Mickelson

Committee Member

Dorian Burnette


The purpose of this research is to study the settlement distributions of the Central Mississippi River Valley (CMV) during the Mississippian Period from A.D. 900-1600. Using radiocarbon dates and site locations, a Geographic Information System model was developed to visualize the spatio-temporal shifts in settlement patterns. This technique revealed a consistent cycle of aggregation and dispersion throughout the Early, Middle, and Late Mississippian Periods. Shifts in settlement patterns were then compared against paleoclimate data from the North American Drought Atlas to see if there was a relationship between site distributions and drought. This analysis found a multitude of decadal drought in every century of the Mississippian Period, and persistent drought events in the Middle and Late Mississippian Periods. Furthermore, this research determined the shift in settlement preferences from the Middle to the Late Mississippian Period was likely a consequence of continual long-term drought over the CMV. A further aspect of this research aims to explore the correlations between the CMV and the Vacant Quarter, a region encompassing and lying just north of the CMV centered at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Using the aforementioned techniques, this research found both regions exhibit evidence for shifts in settlement distributions but a dissimilar pattern of such. The data as a whole supports hypotheses that state there were significant drought events in the CMV and Vacant Quarter, and that site location preference in the CMV was likely influenced by extensive drought events.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.