Journal of Northeast Texas Archeology




The Shelby site (41CP71) is an important Late Caddo period, Titus phase, religious and political center on Greasy Creek in the Northeast Texas Pineywoods. The site, occupied from the 15th century A.D. until at least the late 17th century A.D., is a large and well-preserved settlement with abundant habitation features as well as plant and animal remains, evidence of mound building activities in the form of a 1.5 m high structural mound, and a large community cemetery with at least 119 burial pits and perhaps as many as 200. The Shelby site is the nexus of one of a number of Titus phase political communities in the Big Cypress Creek stream basin.

Nevertheless, very little is known archaeologically about the site—or the history of the Caddo’s settlement there—since almost all the work done at the site since it was discovered in 1979 has been by looters. Perttula and Nelson completed a limited amount of work in the village area in 2003, and Bob Turner and others worked in the 1.5 m high structural mound between 1985-1988, but an overall synthesis of the Caddo occupation at the Shelby site awaits more extensive professional archaeological investigations.

One key step in any professional archaeological work that may be forthcoming at the site includes the documentation of Caddo material culture remains, especially Caddo ceramics, that are known to have come from the site, as they provide a record of the temporal, functional, and stylistic range of the ceramic vessels used and discarded at the site, as well as evidence of interaction and contact between different but contemporaneous Caddo groups. In August 2009, I had an opportunity to document a collection of Caddo ceramic sherds held by Vernon Holcomb from the Shelby site. He collected these sherds from the surface of the site some 25-30 years ago where they had been eroded out of the banks of a dry or intermittent stream branch that drains north to Greasy Creek.

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