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Archeological Investigations at the Lang Pasture Site (41AN38) in the Upper Neches River Basin of East Texas
Archeological testing at the Lang Pasture site (41AN38) and nearby Site 41AN159, was carried out in 2004 by a team of archeologists from Coastal Environments, Inc. and Archeological & Environmental Consultants, LLC, working under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 3333. Based on these efforts, it was determined that the Lang Pasture site had considerable research potential, as it contained remains of prehistoric Caddo domestic habitation and associated burial features. 41AN159 was found to have been seriously disturbed by historic agricultural activities, and to thus have no significant research potential. Data recovery investigations were recommended for the Lang Pasture Site in anticipation of planned widening of State Highway 155, within the right-of-way of which a significant portion of the site was located.
The data recovery work sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation and completed in 2006 by a team from Coastal Environments, Inc. and Archeological & Environmental Consultants, LLC at the Lang Pasture site (41AN38) was carried out under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 4040. This work obtained a wealth of new archeological, bioarchaeological, and paleoenvironmental information about the lives and practices of prehistoric ancestors of the Caddo Indian peoples. This multidisciplinary work has cast a new light on the character and pace of native history of the Caddo in the East Texas region.
The data recovery investigations have been particularly important in advancing the field of Caddo archeology in several different respects: (1) work completed in 14th to early 15th century A.D. domestic habitation contexts resulted in the identification of a well-defined series of features from prehistoric Caddo houses, specialized structures (i.e., granaries or ramadas/arbors), and ancillary outdoor activity areas, such that the character of a rural domestic Caddo household in much of East Texas (or at least the Neches-Angelina River basins) has come into better focus; (2) the exposure and excavation of a Caddo family cemetery— and the attempt to determine the regional context for changes in Caddo diet and health—has contributed to an understanding of the bioarcheological character of the Caddo people in the upper Neches River basin that is unparalleled anywhere in the larger Caddo archeological area. The bioarcheological information on diet, health, and pathologies obtained during the course of the Lang Pasture site work provides a sweeping view of more than 800 years of Caddo life that will be relevant to understanding different Caddo peoples and groups in other parts of the Caddo world; (3) the Lang Pasture archeological and bioarcheological investigations were done in consultation with the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma. That consultation has allowed the Caddo peoples to keep abreast of the bioarcheological approach and findings, and to provide their perspectives on the meaning of the findings from these investigations. This is a first for the field of Caddo archeology, and it is a step in the right direction of making room for the Caddo peoples to be full partners in future Caddo archeological and bioarcheological investigations in their traditional homelands. Robert Cast and Bobby Gonzalez of the Caddo Nation have offered their impressions of this work and of the overall project, and these are included in the final chapter of this report; and (4) finally, the identification of the family cemetery at the Lang Pasture site—as well as the associated funerary offerings placed in each of the graves— allowed for the regional consideration of Caddo mortuary practices based on a study of a number of upper Neches River basin Caddo cemeteries. Additionally, the study of the style, manufacture, and function of
mortuary ceramic vessels in the region permitted the first examination of issues of style and stylistic change, social identity, and changes in culinary traditions as possible manifestations of changes in ceramic practice that occurred among Caddo groups living in the upper Neches River valley of East Texas between the 14th to 17th centuries A.D. The mortuary ceramics from upper Neches River basin Caddo sites illustrate broad continuities in ceramic practice, particularly in terms of vessel decoration and vessel form, but also demonstrate patterns in technical choices that are very different than what is documented in domestic Caddo ceramic assemblages of the same age and made by the same social group of potters. The ceramic-practice data from both domestic and mortuary contexts has been employed to posit the existence of a distinctive upper Neches Caddo ceramic tradition. A report on archeological testing at nearby Site 41AN159 is included as an appendix to this report. The senior author of this report, Jon C. Lohse, served as Project Archeologist, and Robert Ricklis and Timothy Perttula were Co-Principal Investigators.
The non-mortuary portion of the collection from 41AN38, as well as artifacts recovered during testing at nearby 41AN159, along with associated field and laboratory records, are permanently curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin. Human remains from burials, and associated funerary offerings, are being repatriated to the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma (Binger, Oklahoma).
This is a work for hire produced for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which owns all rights, title, and interest in and to all data and other information developed for this project under its contract with the report producer. The report may be cited and brief passages from this publication may be reproduced without permission provided that credit is given to TxDOT and the firm that produced it. Permission to reprint an entire chapter, section, figures or tables must be obtained in advance from the Supervisor of the Archeological Studies Branch, Environmental Affairs Division, Texas Department of Transportation, 125 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701.
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