Jackson Landing Site (22-HA-504 & 22-HA-515)

National Register ID: 73001009

Area Of Significance: Prehistoric, Aboriginal

Period Of Significance: 499-0 AD

Date Listed: 7/27/1973

Location: Pearlington, MS (address restricted)

Statement of Significance

The Jackson Landing site is situated on the first high ground [---redacted-by-USDOI---] location which has been a desirable habitation site for thousands of years.

Approximately one mile to the northwest lie the remnants of two recently destroyed archaeological sites which seem to have been occupied sequentially, possibly by the same group of people. The earliest site may have been occupied by 2000 B.C., and the latest was perhaps abandoned approximately 500 A.D.

The earliest known date for the Jackson Landing site itself is 400 BC +- 100 (UGA 402). This date comes from the earliest stage in the construction of the large earthen embankment. Later dates were obtained from the second construction stage. A date of 215 AD +- 315 (UGA 459) came from the lower part of the second construction stage; whereas the upper part of this stage yielded a date of 290 AD +- 80 (UGA 458). The third and final stage of earthwork construction has not yet been dated.

The embankment, although clearly demonstrated to be of human origin, contained no clues as to its specific cultural origins within the limits of the small area that has been excavated. The dates would seem to indicate, however, an origin in the Tchefuncte Period with continuation of construction into Middle or Late Marksville times. Materials of both Tchefuncte and Marksville cultures have been found in the shell midden to the south of the embankment, which is probably the largest extant prehistoric earthwork in Mississippi.

Apparently there were several centuries of no significant occupation in the vicinity of Jackson Landing. The earthwork is assumed to have been finished around 500 A.D. The next significant occupation of the site would appear to be in the Mississippian Period when the flat-topped mound was constructed. It is not presently known if people of the culture responsible for the construction of this feature remained until Indians of the Historic Period arrived, although it is entirely possible. In the early 1700s a group of as yet undetermined culture left a clam shell midden filled with pottery and containing Europeajr artifacts diagnostic of the period between ca. 1720 and ca. 1785. This group was possibly Biloxi, Pensacola or Apalachee.

The prehistoric earthwork was threatened with destruc- tion when the area was obtained for industrial development by the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission. Its preservation was insured in 1970 when the Department of Archives and History implemented the provisions of the State Antiquities Act. Approximately ten acres of the site were subsequently conveyed to the Department of Archives and History by the commission and the Hancock County Board of Supervisors.

Further archaeological research is needed at Jackson Landing in order to answer pertinent questions about the cul- tures represented, in all periods of its occupation. Hope- fully, this work will be done and interpreted for the benefit of the public.

Present and Historical Appearance

The dominant physical aspect of the Jackson Landing site is a large earthen wall [---redacted-by-USDOI---]. This slightly curved structure is approximately 1500 feet long, up to twelve or thirteen feet high and a hundred feet thick at the base. It contains two intentional gaps, one of which is located 420 feet [---redacted-by-USDOI---]; whereas, the other is 120 feet [---redacted-by-USDOI---]. A ditch or borrow pit, evidently the source of the dirt in the embankment, is situated immediately to its north. The present depth of this depression is approximately four feet although it has probably seen considerable filling over the years. A historic period Indian midden covers [---redacted-by-USDOI---] of the wall and is visible through the appearance of numerous shells and pot sherds. Most of this structure is heavily wooded and many large trees grow on its sides and crest.

Approximately 200 yards [---redacted-by-USDOI---] of the embankment is a large low flat-topped mound, presently surmounted by a house. This mound was-presumably built during the Mississippian period. Surrounding the mound and south to the water's edge is what remains of a formerly rather extensive shell midden which has previously been recorded as a site separate from the earthen embankment (22-Ha-515). The shell midden has been accessioned as 22-Ha-504 in the archaeological site records of the Department of Archives and History.

The site was originally described in print by B. L. C. Wailes, Mississippi State Geologist, in 1852. At that time, considerable shell had already been removed from the shell midden to the south and taken to New Orleans to be sold or used in road repairs. In addition there were four small mounds located north of the wall. Since Wailes' time the small mounds have disappeared completely, leaving no clue as to their cultural identity. Additional shell has been removed from the shell midden to the south. There is no way of knowing the ex- tent of deterioration of the earthen wall at the time of Wailes' account. Evidently there has been some erosion of the crest of the wall since the coming of the historic period Indians, however, since their midden has been washed from the top reexposing construction layer three.

Additional Notes

GEOGRAPHICAL DATA: [---redacted-by-USDOI---]

(Details and text copied from National Register nomination form)

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