Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology




Post-ca. A.D. 1685 Caddo archaeological sites are somewhat surprisingly uncommon on the Red and lower Sulphur rivers in Northeast Texas compared to other parts of this broad region. For instance, there are more Historic Caddo sites known in Nacogdoches County in the Neches and Angelina river basin in East Texas than there are in all of the Red and lower Sulphur river regions.

The low density of Historic Caddo archaeological sites on the Red and lower Sulphur river areas of Northeast Texas is a product of several factors, the most important likely being the rapid abandonment of much of the area after ca. A.D. 1685 because of regional depopulation caused by the introduction of European epidemic diseases. Other factors would include the effects of looting and river flooding that has destroyed sites and collections before they could ever be documented, as well as the overall sporadic nature of professional archaeological research along these rivers in the Caddo area. A committed and long-term Historic Caddo archaeological and ethnohistorical research program along the Red and lower Sulphur rivers is long overdue.

Post-ca. A.D. 1685 Historic Caddo sites on the Red and lower Sulphur are recognized from two kinds of archaeological materials. These include European trade goods of glass, metal, and wheelmade ceramics, generally more common in post-A.D. 1720 contexts, as well as certain kinds of distinctive decorated Caddo pottery wares, particularly engraved fine wares such as Natchitoches Engraved and varieties of Simms Engraved and Avery Engraved, along with Keno Trailed, var. Phillips. Emory Punctated-lncised (some with constricted necks), Nash Neck Banded, and McKinney Plain types are important decorated utility wares in these two locales.

In this article, I provide short summaries of the current state of archaeological knowledge about the Historic Caddo settlement of the Red and lower Sulphur river areas of Northeast Texas. Most of that knowledge, for better or worse, from some specific areas derives from the excavation of Caddo burials, rather than from detailed investigations of habitation contexts.

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