Article Title

Of Hearths and Houses


Caddo Archeology Journal




During the 1993 East Texas Archeological Field School conducted at the Tyson site (41SY92) in western Shelby County, the junior author had an opportunity to participate in the excavation of a Caddoan hearth. The work was directed by Linda Lindsay, a graduate student in Anthropology at Southern Methodist University. This paper describes our findings and a few features of hearths and houses.

One goal of the 1993 Field School was to explore the area around Feature 3 looking for evidence of a house. This was accomplished by opening a 6 meter by 6 meter unit referred to as Block 1. Feature 3 had been excavated in 1992 and found to be a 1.2 meter in diameter, round, basin shaped pit containing a large amount of daub, bone, and Caddoan pottery sherds. Near the bottom of the pit was a zone of ash. Charcoal and mussel shell from Feature 3 yielded three calibrated radiocarbon dates of about 1425 AD.

When Block I was completely exposed, a number of other pits and postholes were seen in plan view. Our activity focused on Feature 9 on the western edge of Block 1. This 1.1 5 meter by O. 9 meter oval hearth was first revealed at 20 cm depth when ash was encountered. The feature contained large amounts of ash from in situ burning, nuggets of fired clay, a small amount of bone, and several burned sherds with ash adhering to their surfaces. The hearth was slightly basin-shaped and approximately 15 cm thick. A discontinuous thin layer of bright orange clay near its bottom was observed. The hearth had been prepared for use by digging a very shallow pit but no intentional "clay lining" was seen. Two large postholes were found in the area of Feature 9. Feature 17 was discovered beneath the eastern end of the hearth. It was 30 cm in diameter and had a smoothly rounded bottom at 75 cm below ground surface. Feature 12 was a very distinct posthole of similar proportions just west of the hearth. The diameter of F 12 was 27 cm and the depth was 65 cm below surface.

How do we understand this feature? Specifically, does Feature 9 represent the central hearth of a Caddoan house? This question is currently difficult to answer because the outside wall of a putative house has not been identified. Possibly, Block l lies entirely inside a large house. The question may be easier to answer after reviewing accounts written by early Europeans visiting the area and reviewing the archeological findings at other East Texas Caddoan sites.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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