Little is known about Fort Ancient sites in the southern Hocking Valley.  The Allen site (33AT653), located within the central Ohio River Valley, has begun to change this situation.  The Allen site is a multicomponent habitation site with an extensive artifact scatter and four distinct loci spanning approximately 3 ha.  The site is situated upon two gentle, west-sloping terraces overlooking Margaret Creek, a second order tributary of the Hocking River, in Athens County, southeast Ohio.  The Allen site layout does not conform to the circular village pattern documented at Fort Ancient sites throughout central and southwest Ohio.  Locus 4 was heavily disturbed by historic and modern human activity and consequently never analyzed.  Locus 1, the main residential area, and Locus 3, a nonkiln pottery firing area, were previously analyzed by Abrams, Bergman, and Miller (2005).  Locus 2 (hereafter referred to as “Allen 2”), a smaller residential area, was analyzed as part of the author’s Master’s thesis project  (Formica 2006) through the Environmental Archaeology program at Ohio University under the guidance of Dr. Elliot Abrams and Dr. AnnCorinne Freter.  


        Part of the study’s research design looks at the domestic economy of Allen 2 at the household level and its interaction within the greater Allen community.  Based on excavations conducted at Allen 2 by Ohio University archaeological summer field schools in 1994 and 1996, features and artifacts were analyzed, with emphasis on pottery and lithic production during the Late Woodland through Late Prehistoric periods.  The Allen site was in proximity to resources necessary for pottery production.  The presence of nonperishable tools that could have been used during vessel manufacture and finishing, red ochre, and an open pottery firing area (Allen 3) all support the inference that Allen 1 and Allen 2 households were involved in pottery production at the community level.  Suitable stone material was also available and accessible.  Lower grades of cherty Brush Creek limestone were available on-site for the manufacture of expedient chipped stone tools, as was sandstone for use as ground stone tools and in fire pits.  In regard to formal chipped stone tool manufacture, higher grades of Brush Creek chert outcrop within a few kilometers of the site, and there is ample evidence to support a predominance of off-site core reduction at lithic workshops near desired outcroppings.  It is concluded that a wide range of domestic economic functions were conducted at the household level in this Fort Ancient community.  Pottery and lithic production were both oriented toward self-sufficiency.  Whereas lithic production was a routine part of the household and community economies at the Allen site, pottery production was a part-time, seasonal part of the community economy.  It is likely to have been supplemented by ad hoc replacement within the household.


        Although posts dominated the feature assemblage, one structure, Structure 1, was clearly defined.  Thanks to funding provided by a 2005 OAC Grant and matching funds provided by Abrams through the David Hudnell Fund of Ohio University, two of the posts were subject to accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating, placing the date of Structure 1 primarily in the 11th century A.D.   Structure 1 represents the most complete outline of a Fort Ancient domestic structure with an accompanying artifactual and feature assemblage to be recovered in at least the southern portion of the Hocking Valley.  For more detailed information regarding this site, download a PDF of the Master's thesis.


References Cited

Abrams, E. M., C. Bergman and D. A. Miller

2005     Allen Site:  A Late Prehistoric Community in the Hocking River Valley.  In The Emergence of the Moundbuilders:  The Archaeology of Tribal Societies in Southeastern Ohio, edited by E. M. Abrams and A. C. Freter, pp. 126-150.  Ohio University Press, Athens.


Formica, T. H.

2006  The Domestic Economy at Locus 2 of the Allen Site (33AT653):  A Late Woodland-Late Prehistoric Household in Southeastern Ohio.  Unpublished Master's thesis, Program of Environmental Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences, Ohio University, Athens.

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