Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goals of the Archaeological Project

Top to bottom: Michael Carlock, Patrick Livingood, Adam Moody, and Elsbeth
Dowd lay out excavation units in preparation for the first day of field school.

Welcome to our blog! Our purpose is to document the University of Oklahoma 2010 Field School in Archaeology at a prehistoric Caddo site in the Ouachita Mountains of southeast Oklahoma. The ancestors of the people of the modern-day Caddo Nation of Oklahoma lived along the Red and Arkansas rivers and their tributaries in an area that spans southeast Oklahoma, northeast Texas, southwest Arkansas, and northwest Louisiana at sites that date back to approximately AD 900. The prehistoric Caddo people were sedentary horticulturalists, who grew maize, beans, and squash, so they typically chose to live near the rich soils found along rivers. The Caddo worked together to build earthen mounds believed to be used for communal rituals and are perhaps best known for their artistic, elaborately decorated pottery.

The goals of our summer project are to (1) determine whether the site is eligible for inclusion on the Natural Register of Historic Places, which will protect it from any future harm, (2) collect a sample of the pottery made at the site to compare to contemporaneous nearby sites, (3) collect samples of charcoal for radiocarbon dating, and (4) collect samples of animal bone and charred seeds to better understand the diet of the prehistoric Caddo in this area.

This archaeological project began last summer when Elsbeth Dowd and I excavated a test unit at a newly-recorded archaeological site, found by USFS archaeologists. In the unit, we found decorated pottery sherds, lithic debitage from stone tool production and maintenance, a large concentration of burned corn cobs, and burned wood and earth. The amount of burned earth and wood suggested that we were probably excavating into the remains of a house that had burned prehistorically. Because we did not have a large enough crew to complete excavations, we stopped at that point, backfilled the unit, and decided the site would be an ideal candidate for the field school.

Last week, most of the supervisory staff went into the field to lay out some 2 x 2 m excavation unit locations around the burned house, which is seen in the photo above. As you can see, excavating around the tree, roots, and poison ivy will be a challenge, but we will enjoy the shade. Check back with us daily for updates from the students as our excavations progress!

Below are some links with relevant information:

For more information about the prehistory of the Caddo, please visit:
For more information about the field school and the project directors, please see:

Interested in studying Anthropology at OU? Check out the department website:

The Oklahoma Archeological Survey website has information about general Oklahoma prehistory:

Thanks for stopping by our site and please enjoy!

Amanda Regnier
Oklahoma Archeological Survey

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