Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology




Archaeological evidence from 15th to 17th century (dating from ca. A.D. 1430-1680) Caddo sites that have been investigated in the Big Cypress Creek and Sabine River basins of northeastern Texas indicate that many of the components have been identified as belonging to the Titus phase. They represent permanent, year-round, settlements of horticultural or agricultural peoples with distinctive cultural practices and material culture. The 15th to 17th century archaeological record in these two basins “refers to a number of distinctive socio-cultural groups, not a single Caddo group; these groups or communities were surely related and/or affiliated by kinship, marriage, and social interaction." There are several clusters of settlements that apparently represent parts of contemporaneous small communities. A political community as used here is a cluster of interrelated settlements and associated cemeteries that are centered on a key site or group of sites distinguished by public architecture (i.e., earthen mounds) and large domestic village areas. The Shelby Mound site is one of the premier sites in a political community centered in the Greasy Creek basin and neighboring Big Cypress Creek basin.

The social and cultural diversity that probably existed among Titus phase cultural groups is matched by the stylistic and functional diversity in Titus phase material culture, particularly in the manufacture and use of fine ware and utility ware ceramics, and the ceramic tradition is the surest grounds for evaluating attribution of archaeological components to the Titus phase. It is the character of their stylistically unique material culture, coupled with the development of distinctive mortuary rituals and social and religious practices centered on the widespread use of community cemeteries and mound ceremonialism as means to mark social identities, that most readily sets these Caddo groups apart from their neighbors in East and Northeast Texas and in the Red River basin to the north and east.

This article discusses the analysis of the plain and decorated ceramic sherds (focusing on the latter) from the mound deposits at the Shelby Mound site in the Robert L. Turner collection. Because of the stratified nature of the mound deposits it is possible that temporal changes in the stylistic character of the utility wares and fine wares in use at the site can be detected, and full documentation of the assemblage at Shelby Mound will be key in stylistic comparisons of the ceramic traditions among contemporaneous Titus phase communities in the Big Cypress Creek basin and the mid-Sabine River basin.

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



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