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Agency

Caddo Archeology Journal

Abstract

The Peoria Quarry complex was first recognized as representing prehistoric activities by geologist Walter P Jenny in 1891. Jenny, who was studying the zinc and lead mines in southwestern Missouri and adjacent areas, made collections from the Peoria extractive area and submitted these specimens along with an introductory letter to Mr. G. K Gilbert of the United States Geological Survey. The latter contacted William H. Holmes, who visited the location in late October of that year (Holmes 1894:7-8). Prior to the evaluation of Jenny, the site was referred to as "old Spanish mines" because the local populace could not attribute such extensive digging to prehistoric peoples. Some early accounts of the Peoria Quarry area greatly exaggerated the vertical and horizontal extent of excavations. For example, Nieberding (1972: 146) mentions that John P. McNaughton visited these "mines" in 1877 and concluded that at least 500 to 1000 men must have been engaged in digging pits over an extended period of time in a 40 acre area. According to McNaughton, some of the shafts were 250 to 300 feet in depth, and it amazed him that the pits apparently had been excavated using stone tools. He did not mention the great quantities of lithic debitage which surrounded each pit Holmes (1894:9), while admitting that digging at the site had been extensive, estimated that chert had been extracted from an area of no more than four or five acres and stated that the greatest depth of pits in 1891 was about five feet. He did mention that a few trenches of 100 feet or more in length could be found along the margins of the site, but stated that most evidence of digging consisted of round pits up to 40 feet in diameter. His sketch map (Holmes 1894:Plate I) depicts the approximate extent of quarry pits and associated workshop areas. Figure 1 reproduces this sketch as well as indicates the positions of a modem county road and buried water line.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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