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Sharpley's Bottom Historic Sites Interdisciplinary Investigations, Tombigbee River Multi-Resource District, Alabama and Mississippi. Phase II. Archeological Investigations.

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Final rept. 1980-1983,

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The report summarizes archeological investigations of Sharpleys Bottom historic sites on the Tombigbee Water-way in Monroe County, Mississippi. Formerly the location of a 1,400-acre slave plantation, Sharpleys Bottom became a tenant farming community which endured in relative isolation and economic deprivation from the 1860s until around 1960 when cotton cultivation was no longer profitable for landlords on the Tombigbee. Phase I archeological survey conducted in 1980 located 21 historic sites in Sharpleys Bottom. Phase II archeological field work conducted in 1981 tested 11 of those sites to evaluate site integrity and to address research questions regarding the transition from slavery to tenancy, the expansion of cash crop tenancy in the Bottom, and changes in tenant economic status. Though rich archival evidence on cotton tenancy was discovered and reported separately in Phase II historical investigations, the archeological field work and analysis did not produce sufficient material culture data to reconstruct a picture of antebellum slave life, nor could the sparse archeological record be used to generate significant conclusions regarding site by site distinctions in tenant life or changes in tenant life overtime. For these reasons, additional Phase III archeological investigations were not recommended. Despite the projects recovery of a meager artifact assemblage, the examination of Sharpleys Bottom material culture has recorded the perserverance of a tenant farming community which survived for a century after the Civil War, and the study has raised important questions concerning archeological visibility and salvage within the context of the sustained rural poverty of cotton tenancy. Author

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  • Humanities and History

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