Journal of Northeast Texas Archeology
The Gilbert site (41RA13) is an important mid-18th century American Indian site on an alluvial terrace along Lake Fork Creek, adjacent to the upper part of Lake Fork Reservoir in Rains County, Texas. The site was first investigated in 1962 by the Dallas Archeological Society, and based on the findings from that work, the Texas Archeological Society (TAS) had a field school at the site in June and July 1962.
There are several notable features of the Gilbert site. First, it contains 21 midden mounds about 6-9 m in diameter and ca. 1 m in height spread out over ca. 50 aces of the alluvial terrace landform. The middens do not represent habitation features, as the “only occupational features discovered besides the middens were two pits that were evidently used for storing grain or other products. No house floors, post-mold patterns, burials, hearths, or other such structural remains were found." Further investigation by Blaine identified other midden features (discussed further below, and the source of the ceramic sherds discussed in this article) and a well-preserved bell-shaped storage pit in Feature 20. The newly-discovered midden features were not mounded or had a clay cap, and neither contained any evidence of structural remains or features. Structural features are considered more likely to be found in inter-midden areas than in the middens themselves.
A second notable feature of the Gilbert site is the abundance of mid-18th century European trade goods in the archeological deposits, much of it likely obtained from French traders. These goods include metal tools (knives, axes, wedges, hatchets, hoes, scrapers, awls, chisels, scissors, arrow points, and a Spanish sword hilt), gun parts, ornaments (especially glass trade beads), brass kettles, horse trappings, fl at and bottle glass, and chipped glass pieces.
Third, there was a substantial aboriginal ceramic sherd assemblage from the Gilbert site. The analysis of the sherds suggested that they are from vessels “too stylistically and technologically diverse to represent only one locally-produced ceramic complex." Furthermore, “the majority, and perhaps even all, of the decorated ceramics [at the site] are derived ultimately from the Caddoan [sic], particularly Fulton Aspect [Late Caddo period], tradition. Many close parallels exist in the modes and styles of decoration, paste characteristics, and vessel forms."
And lastly, the various results of the investigations suggested that the site was a village occupied by southern Wichita groups, possibly the Tawakoni, Kichai, or Yscani Indians. This conclusion is far from uniformly accepted, a point I will return to in the final section of this article. In the remainder of this article, I discuss the analysis of a small collection of previously unstudied ceramic sherds from two midden features (F-B3 and F-B4) excavated by Jay and Jerrylee Blaine from the Gilbert site. The focus of the analysis is to characterize the principal stylistic and technological characteristics of the ceramic sherd assemblages from these two middens, compare this assemblage in those aspects with the larger assemblage from numerous middens studied by Story, and then offer my own interpretation of the cultural affiliations of the Gilbert site occupants based on the ceramic sherd assemblage data.
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