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Long before Elvis and Country Music, the area of Tennessee was home to large groups of prehistoric peoples. Archaeologists have learned that the first inhabitants of Tennessee arrived at least 12,000 years ago, shortly after the end of the last ice age. These earliest settlers spread throughout the state, and left behind a rich archaeological heritage.
Located just south of Jackson, Tennessee in the small community of Pinson is the Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park. This archaeological site is the largest Woodland Period prehistoric archaeological site in the American Southeast, and was occupied during the period from around 200 B.C.-A.D. 400. It consists of at least twelve earthen mounds, and a large palisade or enclosure. The main mound at Pinson is known as Saul’s Mound, and stands 72 feet tall. At the time it was built (around 100 A.D.) it was the tallest man-made structure north of the Rio Grande. It remained the tallest structure in what would become the United States for nearly 1000 years, until the construction of the site of Cahokia near St. Louis, MO.
The last border state to secede from the Union during the American Civil War, Tennessee is home to several era battlefields, many of which are well maintained and perserved for visitors. These offer historic attractions, displays and even guided tours, as well as nature and hiking trails where you can practically hear the ghosts of so long ago. A complete list of battlefields, their attractions and amenities is available on the State of Tennessee's Department of Tourist Development Web site.
No trip to Tennessee would be complete with a visit to Graceland, the home and final resting place of the King of Rock and Roll. This site includes the Elvis Automobile Museum, guided tours of his two custom airplanes and tours of the mansion and grounds. Graceland is open daily. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, and hours of operation vary. Consult with the official Graceland Web site for information.