Brian G. Redmond

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Ohio Archaeological Council © 2002

In 2001, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History resumed excavations at the OEC 1 site, a late prehistoric period, Whittlesey Tradition settlement on the Cuyahoga River in northeast Ohio (Redmond 2001:14). Initial systematic testing revealed that the subsurface distribution of artifacts covered an area of approximately 0.8 hectare (Figure 1). More intensive excavations were carried out at the western margin of the site in an attempt to identify evidence of stockade defenses. A 6.5 m long test trench, which was placed perpendicular to the western slope of the settlement (Figure 2), revealed one feature stain (Fea. 01-10). This feature contained almost no cultural material and its identification as a stockade trench remains uncertain. In this same area, two large pit features (Fea. 01-08 and Fea. 00-32) were exposed and completely excavated.

Feature 01-08 was a blat-bottomed basin that measured 175 cm in diameter and approximately 40 cm deep. The upper layer of this pit was filled with a dense concentration of fire-cracked rock weighing more than 200 kg. Beneath the rock layer were several carbonized logs. Very few artifacts and only one burned bone fragment were recovered from Feature 01-08. This pit most likely represented a large earth oven used for roasting vegetal or animal foods.

Figure 1. Distribution of chert debitage in plow zone at OEC 1 site.
Figure 1. Distribution of chert debitage in plow zone at OEC 1 site.

Feature 00-32 was a large trash pit that was initially identified at the end of the 2000 field season. This feature measured approximately 1.5 m in diameter and extended to a depth of 2.0 m below the ground surface. The stratified fill of Feature 00-32 contained surprisingly low densities of chert debitage, mollusk shells, and animal bones. The recovery of triangular projectile points and several large sections of Tuttle Hill Notched vessels revealed, however, that the pit originated during the Whittlesey Tradition occupation of the site. Of particular interest was the discovery of preserved grass stems which may have served as a lining for the original storage function of the pit.

During the last week of the summer field season, four, conjoined 2.0 x 2.0 m test units were placed along the eastern terrace edge (Figure 2). These units were excavated in 10 cm levels with the goal of identifying stratified, sheet midden deposits at the eastern edge of the settlement. Evidence of rodent-disturbed midden deposits (Fea. 01-12) was found in this area; however, due to time constraints, excavation was terminated prematurely.

Radiocarbon assay of five charcoal samples from two pits excavated in 2000 produced the following results. Samples from Fea. 00-6 produced conventional ages of 420 ( 50 BP (Beta-156049) and 160 ( BP (Beta-156050). Charcoal from Fea. 00-9 produced conventional ages of 250 ( 50 BP (Beta-156051), 180 ( 60 BP (Beta-156052), and 320 ( 60 BP (Beta-156053). Unfortunately, calibration of these ages (Stuiver et al. 1998) resulted in only two acceptable dates ranges for the Whittlesey Tradition village occupation. Calibration of one assay from Fea. 00-6 (Beta-156049) placed its contents within a maximum two sigma interval of AD 1420 to 1630. The remaining sample from Fea. 00-9 (Beta-156053) returned a calibrated two sigma interval of AD 1440 to 1670. Both these temporal estimates are acceptable given the middle to late Whittlesey Tradition pottery assemblages recovered from each pit.

Figure 2: Detail of 2000-2001 excavation plan at OEC 1 site.
Figure 2: Detail of 2000-2001 excavation plan at OEC 1 site.

References Cited

Redmond, Brian G.
 2001  Recent Excavations at the OEC 1 Site (33Cu462), A Whittlesey Tradition Settlement in Northeast Ohio. Newsletter of the Ohio Archaeological Council 13(1):14.

Stuiver, M. et al.
 1998  INTCAL98 Radiocarbon Age Calibration. Radiocarbon 40(3):1041-1083.