Mississippian Prather Complex and the Falls "phase"
The Prather site has long been recognized as one of the keys to understanding
the nature of the Mississippian occupation in the cental Ohio River Valley,
which is essentially restricted to the Falls of the Ohio River region.
Prior to historic modifications, the Falls themselves were a series of
rapids located between Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Since Prather is the best preserved of a small number of known Mississippian
sites at the Falls, the term “Prather Complex” has been used
by several archaeologists (e.g. Green and Munson 1978) to refer to the
Mississippian occupation in the Falls locality. Another term is “Falls
Mississippian” (Muller 1986: 249-250). The terms “Falls phase”
or “Prather phase” is premature, given the unknown temporal,
spatial, and formal dimensions that await delineation. Cheryl Ann Munson
(Indiana University-Bloomington) and Robert G. McCullough (IPFW)
co-directed a survey project in 2003 which was designed to clarify this
problem and to highlight the importance of preserving and studying the
few surviving Mississippian sites at the Falls
UPDATE! Download the
Prather site report: Archaeological
Investigations at the Prather Site, Clark County Indiana: the 2003 Baseline
Archaeological Survey (PDF, 10.9MB, opens in new window)
The Prather site
is located in the greater Louisville metropolitan area in Grant 52,
between Jeffersonville and Charlestown, Indiana. It is also situated
immediately west of the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (INAAP),
in a once rural area that is rapidly being transformed
by residential and industrial development. In the 1940s, the
Prather family farm extended south of SR 62 and into the area developed
for the INAAP.
Airphoto of Prather Site area (circa 1940)
Land use in the site locale previously was row crops and pasture.
Over the decades, plowing for crops is responsible for deflating
observed previously. Today, the site locale is used for pasture
and no-till agriculture, and the mounds – whether man-made
constructions for structures, refuse accumulations, or undulations
of the karst upland – are
suggested only by several slight elevations.
is presently the subject of industrial development plans, and residential
has exploded on private lands. The planned construction of a new bridge
across the Ohio River is located near the Prather site and will increase
the scale and pace of development. Consequently, the long term preservation
of this site is threatened by multiple modern developments making our current
work all the more urgent.