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Agency

TxDOT

Abstract

In summer and fall 2002, personnel with Prewitt and Associates, Inc., undertook data recovery excavations at prehistoric site 41MM341 for the Texas Department of Transportation, Environmental Affairs Division, to address the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and the Texas Antiquities Code. Site 41MM341 is in central Milam County, Texas, just southeast of the town of Cameron, on a low rise in the modern floodplain of the Little River. The excavations were necessitated by the planned replacement of the State Highway 36 bridge spanning the Little River floodplain, which will directly affect the archeological deposits at 41MM341. The site, which was tested in 2001 and determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and designation as a State Archeological Landmark, is well preserved and contains stratified, multicomponent prehistoric materials encased in late Holocene alluvium. The data recovery excavations focused on broad exposure of the remains of a series of Late Prehistoric occupations dating from A.D. 800 or 900 to 1300, with more-limited sampling of a component dating to the A.D. 600– 700s. The excavations consisted of 4 backhoe trenches, 11 initial 1x1-m units, and 3 hand-excavated blocks covering 208 m2. The excavations identified a variety of cultural features and recovered the following: 303 shaped chipped stone tools; 494 expedient stone tools; 168 cores; 39,872 pieces of unmodified debitage; 30 stone tools modified by grinding or battering; 30 bone tools or modified bones; 4 ceramic sherds; 6,540 pieces of vertebrate faunal remains; more than 58.2 kg of invertebrate faunal remains; 1.6 kg of macrobotanical remains; 163.0 kg of burned and unburned rocks; and 30.0 kg of burned clay. The records generated by the excavations and later analyses and the artifacts and other materials retained for curation are housed at the Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Analysis of the data recovered indicates that 41MM341 was a campsite occupied perhaps mostly during the summer months by hunter-gatherers who took mussels and fish from the river and hunted a variety of game, especially deer, on the Little River floodplain and the surrounding uplands. They may have used botanical resources less, although they did consume hardwood nuts and wild onion and false garlic bulbs. One important activity performed at the site was manufacture of stone tools—mostly arrow points, knives, and expedient flake tools—using chert collected from gravel bars in the river. Many of these tools were used in the wide variety of procurement, processing, and manufacturing activities that typified daily life at 41MM341, but some appear to have been made because they would be needed later in the year after people left the site. One anticipated need was for trade with the Caddo Indians of east Texas. The people who lived at 41MM341 and other sites in the Little River valley interacted regularly with the Caddo, perhaps in trade relationships that helped cement cooperative alliances aimed at regulating competition among groups. Site 41MM341 contributes important information on this topic, which remains an interesting research issue for Native American groups who used the Blackland Prairie between central and east Texas during the Late Prehistoric period.

Licensing Statement

This is a work for hire produced for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which owns all rights, title, and interest in and to all data and other information developed for this project under its contract with the report producer. The report may be cited and brief passages from this publication may be reproduced without permission provided that credit is given to TxDOT and the firm that produced it. Permission to reprint an entire chapter, section, figures or tables must be obtained in advance from the Supervisor of the Archeological Studies Branch, Environmental Affairs Division, Texas Department of Transportation, 125 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701.

 

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