Donald Ball's Books

Chiefdom on the Cumberland

408 pages, HB

List Price: $55.00

February 2015


For all practical purposes, archaeology in one form or another has been ongoing for over two centuries in many areas of Tennessee. Indeed, the once abundant vestiges of the late prehistoric past in the central Cumberland Valley were first noticed at least as early as the 1790s. It is unfortunate, however, that the disproportionate level of attention long directed to the thousands of stone lined graves in the region has resulted in this now vanished and enigmatic culture frequently being perceived as a “death cult” rather than a once vibrant society. Intended as a guide for advanced students and the interested public alike, this volume represents an extended personal inquiry into two interrelated topics: (1) the little-known history and folklore of archaeological explorations in the central Cumberland Valley during the 19th century; and (2) what we have learned from both these early pioneering efforts and more modern studies with an emphasis on interpreting the social organization of the populous late prehistoric Native American culture—herein defined as the Cumberlandia chiefdom—which formerly occupied this region. 


Stone Age Man in the Middle South

and Other Writings, Two Volumes


Written by William Edward Myer

Edited by Donald B. Ball

1152 pages, Hardcover

September 2014

William Edward Myer (1862-1923) of Carthage, Tennessee, was the state’s most significant and productive archaeologist in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, until now his monumental and previously unpublished Stone Age Man in the Middle South manuscript―intended to be his magnum opus summarizing decades of observations regarding the archaeology of the upper and central Cumberland Valley―has been accessible to only a limited number of regional archaeologists for the better part of a century. These volumes make readily available for the first time both Myer’s Stone Age Man manuscript and an extended sampling of his other writings including his previously unknown Record of Relics No. 2, his personal inventory of his extensive (12,000+ items) collection. This anthology of Myer’s work fills a long standing void in the literature of this region and is a “must have” addition to any library devoted to the prehistoric archaeology of Tennessee, the southeastern United States, and the study of Mississippian era chiefdom level societies.

About The Author

Editor Donald B. Ball is a native of Middle Tennessee and holds a BS degree (1970) in history from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, and a MA degree (1977) in anthropology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In addition to the history of archaeology in Tennessee and prehistoric archaeology of the southeastern United States and Cumberland and Ohio valleys, his research interests include the history and technology of nineteenth century flour and grist mills, traditional architecture and material folk culture (focus on the Upland South), nineteenth century industrial and rural historic archaeology, identification and analysis of archaeologically recovered firearms and related materials, the history of firearms, spelean history, diverse aspects of the history of Tennessee, and Indian remnant and mixed-blood populations of the southeastern United States and Ohio Valley. Don currently serves as editor of two regional journals, Ohio Valley Historical Archaeology and The Millstone: Journal of the Kentucky Old Mill Association



Scholars and students of anthropology and material culture should read any project Donald B. Ball edits (or writes). But bringing this monumental work by William Edward Myer to the public is a kindness and service to those who would like to understand early Tennessee archaeology. A very stimulating read for this non-archaeologist.



Ball provides a complete look at a pioneering archaeologists work in Tennessee. For those interested in what was found in the early days of antiquarian collecting in the Cumberland River Valley, this book is essential. Details on sites, now destroyed, throughout Tennessee are presented in capsule form. A great deal of data, previously unavailable, is now accessible with Balls work.