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  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    Jon Meacham in residence at Vanderbilt this fall

    Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham will be a dynamic presence at Vanderbilt University during the fall 2013 semester, teaching a political science course and leading two events open to the general public.“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the vibrant Vanderbilt world,” said Meacham. “The university seems to be in a kind of golden age–at once culturally exciting and intellectually exacting.”Meacham, executive editor and executive vice president at Random House, was awarded the Pulitzer for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. His most recent book, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and made many critics’ “best of the year” lists. Meacham is a contributing editor to Time and a former editor of Newsweek. A fellow of the Society of American Historians, he is a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, chairs the National Advisory Board of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University, and is a scholar-trustee of the New-York Historical Society....

  • Originally published 07/25/2013

    European fort discovered in Appalachian Mountains

    A team of archaeologists, led by the University of Michigan, has discovered the remains of the earliest European fort in the interior of what is now the United States. This find will provide new insight into the beginning of the US colonial era, and the all-too-human reasons spoiling Spanish dreams of gold and glory.In 1567, nearly 20 years before Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony at Roanoke was lost and 40 years before the Jamestown settlement was established, Spanish Captain Juan Pardo and his men built Fort San Juan in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.“Fort San Juan and six others that together stretched from coastal South Carolina into eastern Tennessee were occupied for less than 18 months before the Native Americans destroyed them, killing all but one of the Spanish soldiers who manned the garrisons,” said University of Michigan archaeologist Robin Beck, assistant professor in the U-M Department of Anthropology and assistant curator at the U-M Museum of Anthropology....

  • Originally published 06/11/2013

    Oldest cave art discovered in U.S. shows prehistoric southern living

    The oldest and most widespread collection of prehistoric cave and rock art in the United States has been found in and around Tennessee, according to a new paper in the journal Antiquity that documents the art. It provides intriguing clues about what life was like for Native American societies more than 6,000 years ago. That is the age of the newly discovered cave art, one of which is seen here, showing what appears to be a human hunting. Other images are of a more direct spiritual/mythological nature.Lead author Jan Simek, president emeritus and a distinguished professor of science at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Anthropology, told Discovery News, “The discoveries tell us that prehistoric peoples in the Cumberland Plateau used this rather distinctive upland environment for a variety of purposes and that religion was part of that broader sense of place.” Jan Simek, Alan Cressler, Nicholas Herrmann and Sarah Sherwood/Antiquity Publications Ltd.A very large polychrome pictograph depicts humans, serpents and circles. The image, from the same overall site, but extending into Alabama, likely illustrated a myth spread across generations via word of mouth, with such permanent imagery further preserving its meaning, lost to history....

  • Originally published 05/26/2013

    Former TN state historian Walter Durham dies at 88

    Lifelong Gallatin resident Walter Thomas Durham, Tennessee’s state historian for the past decade and author of 24 books on Tennessee history, who left a lasting mark especially in his hometown, died on Friday at the age of 88.Durham, a longtime Gallatin businessman and a walking encyclopedia of Tennessee and Sumner County history, was appointed state historian in 2002 by then-Gov. Don Sundquist. He had already served as president of the Tennessee Historical Society, founding president of the Tennessee Heritage Alliance, later renamed the Tennessee Preservation Trust, and chair of the Tennessee Historical Commission....

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Dig aims to save Native American burial mounds

    Toye Heape stood on the slope of an ancient Native American burial mound, confident in the significance of what was beneath his feet.The 1,800-year-old site has long been known to historians. But Heape, vice president of the Native History Association, was still excited to see state archaeologists slowly burrowing into the dirt last week. The excavation, scheduled to end Friday, was never intended to prove specifically what rests within the two small hills that sit just south of Highway 96 in the Westhaven subdivision. The intent is simply to preserve them. “For the Native American community, whether (the site) gets on the National Register (of Historic Places) or not, it’s still a sacred place,” Heape said. “Our feelings about it won’t change.”...

  • Originally published 03/01/2013

    TN ban on renaming Civil War parks passes over Dems' objections

    Legislation that would prevent the renaming or moving of war-related monuments in Tennessee passed the state House last night. The bill comes as city officials in Memphis have renamed three Confederate-themed parks.Democrats tried to get the bill’s sponsor – Republican Steve McDaniel – to admit he was responding to the name changes in Memphis, which he denied.Rep. Johnnie Turner asked what if Jews hadn’t been allowed to tear down Nazi statues....