EASTERN MAPLE CREEK, LAURENTIAN ARCHAIC OR WHAT? PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF INVESTIGATIONS AT A LATE ARCHAIC OCCUPATION ALONG THE OHIO RIVER IN LAWRENCE COUNTY, OHIO

Matthew P. Purtill

Gray & Pape, Inc.
Ohio Archaeological Council © 2002

Davisson Farm (33Le619) represents a large (22+ acre), open-air site located on an elevated, Pleistocene-aged, T-3 terrace situated along the Ohio River in Lawrence County, Ohio. Recent surface collections and mechanical stripping of 4,950 square meters of site area by Gray & Pape have identified significant deposits (artifacts and features) dating primarily between ca. 4000 and 700 B.C., and ca. 240 A.D. A total of 14,989 artifacts were recovered including projectile points, unifaces, bifaces, cores, ceramics, debitage, FCR, and groundstone tools (Figure 1). Brewerton Series points, especially the Brewerton Eared-Notched type (Figure 2), dominate the assemblage. Other time periods are minimally represented. Microscopic use-wear on a sample of chipped stone tools suggest hunting and meat/hide work.

Figure 1: Plummets recovered during Phase II Investigations.
Figure 1: Plummets recovered during Phase II Investigations.
 


Eighty-four prehistoric features were identified. This total includes large and small basin shaped pits (n=54), postmolds (n=12), surface hearths/burnt areas (n=2), small pits/postmolds (n=2), FCR clusters (n=13), and a remnant Middle Woodland midden (n=1). Of these features, four date to the Middle Woodland, 37 were assigned to the Late Archaic, 20 were assigned to the Late Archaic/Early Woodland, and the remaining 23 could not be reliably assigned to any period. Late Archaic and Late Archaic/Early Woodland features were primarily earth ovens/roasting pits. A range of materials were recovered during flotation of over 300 liters of feature soil. Paleobotanical remains include black walnut (Juglans nigra), hickory (Carya spp.), acorn (Quercus spp.), and domesticated (?) squash, (Cucurbita cf. pepo), goosefoot (Chenopodium spp.), pigweed (Amaranthus spp.), grape (Vitis spp.), pokeweed (Phytolacca spp.), knotweed (Polygonum spp.), bedstraw (Galium spp.), among others. None of the seeds suggest domestication, instead all appear to be wild species. Flotation analysis also revealed several pieces of burned cordage (2-ply, Z-twist) from Feature 80 which dates to 840 B.C. ñ70 (Beta 161297). No unambiguous house patterns were identified, but one semi-circular postmold pattern may represent a lean-to structure.

Figure 2: Representative Brewerton Eared-Notch and Eared Triangle points.
Figure 2: Representative Brewerton Eared-Notch and Eared Triangle points.
 


Paleobotanical remains suggest occupation during summer and fall months, although spring occupation is also possible. For the Late Archaic through Late Archaic/Early Woodland period, the lack of storage pits, midden development, substantial structures, burials, as well as limited evidence for secondary refuse disposal and limited wild plant collecting/harvesting evidence, argue against a long-term, sedentary (or semi-sedentary) occupation. Instead, Davisson Farm appears to represent a series of short-term, repeatedly occupied camps. Occupations likely were scheduled to exploit seasonal foods, especially mast resources.

In sum, on-going analysis is providing a wealth of information for Late Archaic through Late Archaic/Early Woodland social dynamics in this poorly studied part of the state. Importantly, although Laurentian-like influences appear strong, Davisson Farm does not perfectly conform to any of the surrounding Late Archaic complexes previously defined (e.g., Maple Creek Phase, Cogswell Phase, Laurentian Archaic etc.). Instead, Davisson Farm, and other contemporary sites in the area, appear to represent a mixture of influences from both up and down the Ohio River. Importantly, aside from a well-developed hematite-tool industry, sites in this area do not appear to possess any "index" artifacts that easy identify a unique phase or tradition.