Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology




Sometime around ca. A.D. 800, Lake Naconiche sites were no longer occupied by Woodland period groups of the Mossy Grove culture solely making sandy paste pottery or living as mobile hunting-gathering foragers. At this time, from ca. A.D. 750-800 to around A.D. 900, colder and drier conditions began to dominate the local weather. After ca. A.D. 800, were the aboriginal groups Caddo peoples or acculturated Mossy Grove folks? Some findings from the Lake Naconiche archaeological investigations at the Boyette site (41NA285) are relevant to this issue of ethnic affiliations and local, but nevertheless regional momentous, cultural changes.

Putting that in context, as best as can be discerned in the archaeological records of the Woodland period occupations at the Naconiche Creek (41NA236) and Boyette sites, if there is any evidence of increasing sedentism, it is only apparent after ca. A.D. 400 or perhaps even as late as ca. A.D. 650, during the latter part of the period. Even so, these occupations were not sedentary in the sense of them being year-round occupations (as with the Caddo settlement history at Lake Naconiche) or even multiseasonal occupations. The sites do not have accumulations of midden deposits, there is no evidence for the construction of sturdy wood structures, and there are only a very modest assortment of burned rock, pit, or post hole features at the Woodland period sites. It is hard to disagree with Story’s characterization of Woodland period settlements in the general area that they reflect “intermittent encampments by a relatively small group or groups over a considerable period of time.”

Woodland period sites are widely distributed on many different kinds of landforms, implying the generalized use of a wide variety of habitats for settlements as well as foraging pursuits. Without a more fine-grained Woodland period chronology for Mossy Grove culture sites in East Texas, which we are a long way from achieving, it is not possible to evaluate suggestions by Corbin that there were subtle shifts on the landscape of peoples that may have been a response to changes in subsistence (i.e., the possible growing of cultivated plants). The absence of cultigens other than squash from Woodland contexts in the Lake Naconiche paleobotanical record casts some doubt on the assertion that horticultural economies were developed during this time locally, although the number of flotation and fine-screen samples from pre-A.D. 800 contexts is still miniscule. Thus, the virtual absence of cultigens from Woodland times does not yet constitute a robust evaluation of Corbin’s suggestion.

The development of sedentary life along Naconiche Creek appears to have taken place after ca. A.D. 800 by successful hunter-gatherer foragers and pottery makers, specifically amongst the earliest Caddo residents of the valley. Neither the adoption of pottery or the adoption of horticultural subsistence strategies (i.e., the cultivation of maize) appear to have been triggering events that led to the ability of these people to maintain multi-seasonal residences in the same places.

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



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