For 10,000 years, the region now known as the Muscle Shoals was home to various tribes of Native Americans. During a 1932 survey of the Tennessee River Valley, archaeologists of the Alabama Museum of Natural History located 237 individual Native American sites, some of which were flooded after the construction of the three major dams in the area. Carbon-dating has placed some sites as early as 5,000 BCE. One location, known as the Quad Site, was discovered to have over one thousand artifacts. Some others near it also had similar numbers.
The Woodland period of Native American history was between three thousand and one thousand years ago. It is identified by the change from a hunting-gathering society to agrarian and the use of spears and atlatl, a throwing aid to propel spears longer distances with leverage.
The Copena Culture, a sub-culture of the much larger Hopewell, existed locally from roughly 100 BCE to 500 CE. It can be identified by earthen mounds to both bury the dead and conduct cultural rituals. One of these mounds can be viewed in nearby Florence, at the Florence Indian Mound Museum.
Image Credits: Robert Cox