Friends of Northeast Texas Archaeology




The Spradley site (41NA206) is a Native American archaeological site in the Bayou La Nana valley in Nacogdoches County in the East Texas Pineywoods. Bayou La Nana is a southward-flowing tributary to the Angelina River. The site is best known for its late 17th-early 18th century Historic Caddo period occupation, and the recovery of a number of European trade goods from habitation deposits, but the site was also occupied in Late Archaic (ca. 5000-2500 years B.P.), Woodland (ca. 2500-1150 years B.P.), and pre-A.D. 1400 Caddo periods. The Spradley site was the scene of Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) Field School in 2001, 2003, and 2005. This publication presents the first comprehensive and detailed publication of both the lithic and ceramic artifacts recovered from the SFASU work at the Spradley site.

The chipped stone tools from the Spradley site are dominated by arrow points and arrow point fragments (n=70) and arrow point preforms (n=12). Also present are flake tools (n=9), scrapers (n=3), drills (n=3), bifaces (n=6), and dart points (n=23). The identified arrow point and dart point types in the Spradley site assemblage indicate that it was used during Late Archaic (from ca. 2000 B.C.), Woodland, and pre-A.D. 1400 Caddo periods, as well as during the post-A.D. 1680 Historic Caddo period. All of the dart points and dart point fragments are made from local lithic raw materials, almost exclusively from petrified wood. Five different dart point types are present in the sample, including Gary (n=6), Kent (n=7), Godley (n=1), Pontchartrain (n=2), and Yarbrough (n=); the Pontchartrain and Yarbrough dart points are of Late Archaic manufacture (ca. 5000-2500 years B.P.). The Gary, Godley, and Kent dart points are temporal diagnostics of the Woodland period (ca. 2500-1150 years B.P.) in this part of the Pineywoods.

Most of the arrow points are made on local lithic raw materials (83 percent)—among them petrified wood, quartzite, and local earth-toned cherts—but 17 percent are made on non-local cherts. One arrow point fragment is made from a bluish-green glass. The oldest arrow point styles in the arrow point assemblage include Friley (n=5) and Scallorn (n=1) points, likely manufactured during late Woodland period times (ca. A.D. 700-900). These are followed by ca. A.D. 900-1200 arrow point styles: Alba (n=1) and Colbert (n=2). There are two ca. A.D. 1200-1400 Bonham arrow points in the assemblage. A Late Caddo arrow point type in the assemblage is the Bassett point (n=3). The majority of the arrow points are associated with the principal Caddo occupation, one dating to early Historic period times. This includes 23 Perdiz points, cf. Perdiz points (n=8), cf. Turney (n=4), and a single Cuney point. One bluish-green glass arrow point fragment also is part of this component.

There are 40 body sherds from sandy paste Goose Creek Plain, var. unspecified vessels in the assemblage from the Spradley site. These are part of the Woodland period Mossy Grove culture occupation of the site that occurred sometime between ca. 500 B.C.-A.D. 800. The sherds are from vessels made with a non-tempered and locally available sandy clay.

The remaining 8806 sherds from the Spradley site excavations are from plain wares, utility wares, and fine ware vessels. The plain wares comprise 52 percent of the collection. Sherds from utility ware vessels account for 37 percent of the assemblage, and fine wares only account for 10.5 percent of the sherds from the site. The assemblage has a plain/decorated sherd ratio of 1.12, a brushed to plain sherd ratio of 0.51, and a brushed to other wet paste sherd ratio of 2.68. Brushed marks are present on 56.6 percent of the decorated sherds (n=4156).

Sherds that compare favorably to a number of types that occur on other Neches-Angelina River basin ancestral Caddo sites of late Frankston phase age (ca. A.D. 1560-1680), or date to the early part of the Allen phase (ca. A.D. 1680-1720), are identified in the Spradley site assemblage. They include Hume Engraved, Keno Trailed, Killough Pinched, King Engraved, La Rue Neck Banded, Lindsey Grooved, Maydelle Incised, Patton Engraved, Poynor Engraved, and Spradley Brushed-Incised. Sherds from Patton Engraved and Spradley Brushed-Incised, both Allen phase types, are most common in the Spradley site assemblage.

The ceramic sherds are from vessels tempered primarily with grog or burned bone. Grog occurs in 56 percent of the sherds, while bone temper is present in 35 percent of the sherds. Crushed hematite is present in 7 percent of the sherd sample. Vessels made with shell temper (0.7 percent of the sherds) are from non-locally produced wares, likely made by Caddo groups along the Red River to the northeast in Northwest Louisiana and Southwest Arkansas.

There are a number of decorative classes in the utility wares. Sherds with brushed marks dominate these wares, accounting for 71 percent of the utility wares. A number of the brushed-incised sherds are from Spradley Brushed-Incised vessels that have parallel brushing with overlapping straight incised lines opposed or perpendicular to the brushing. Patton Engraved is the dominant fine ware type at the Spradley site. The frequency of curvilinear, horizontal, and parallel engraved lines with tick marks suggests that var. Freeman, var. Allen, and var. Fair of Patton Engraved are present in the Spradley site fine wares. Patton Engraved, var. Freeman is the earliest of the varieties, likely dating to the late 17th century, while var. Allen is a slightly later Patton Engraved variety, perhaps dating from the early 18th century.

In comparison with other contemporaneous Allen phase sites in Nacogdoches County, where ceramics are primarily grog-tempered, bone-tempered pottery is much more abundant at the Spradley site, suggesting the existence there of a different tradition of ceramic technology and manufacture there. The closest ceramic comparisons between the Spradley site and other known Nacogdoches County historic Caddo sites is with 41NA223, also on Bayou Lanana. There are distinct spatial groupings of Allen phase sites in Nacogdoches County, including Group I on Bayou La Nana (including the Spradley site). Most ceramic groups represent the core of known Hasinai Caddo ceramic assemblages in the Angelina River basin, or are linked with the Nasoni Caddo and Mission Nasoni (1716-1730). The Spradley site occupation is most closely affiliated with the Nacogdoche Caddo, and these defined ceramic group represent different but clearly related and interacting social groups or communities of Caddo peoples living in the Angelina River basin in historic times.

Further archaeological research concerning the Spradley site excavations remains to be completed. This includes the reporting of the excavations themselves, along with the presentation of the identified features documented in the work. Still to be completed is the analysis of the recovered lithic debris at the Spradley site, the plant and animal remains found in the archaeological deposits, and a full accounting and analysis of the 18th century European artifacts found at the site.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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