Friends of Northeast Texas Archaeology




The development and maintenance of long-distance trade networks for both economic, social, and religious purposes was a notable feature of the ancestral Caddo tradition from its very beginnings, and this includes the Caddo peoples that lived in East Texas. Bison hides, salt, raw materials such as copper, galena, stone, and marine shell, and finished objects such as pottery vessels (and possibly their contents), were part of the trading system.

Much of the archaeological evidence for the Caddo long-distance trade and exchange networks of prestige goods occur in contexts dating from ca. A.D. 800 to 1400, with long-distance trade outside of the East Texas communities seemingly declining after that time. Certainly, the best-known examples of Caddo long-distance exchange are seen in the grave offerings from mound burials from the premier civic-ceremonial centers like Spiro, Crenshaw, Gahagan, Mounds Plantation, and Mineral Springs in eastern Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas, and northwestern Louisiana, respectively, and George C. Davis (41CE19) in East Texas. Exchanged goods in components dating from ca. A.D. 1000-1300—the apex of the Caddo’s participation in long-distance trade network of prestige goods—include a wide variety of prestige goods such as ceramic vessels, ceremonial tools, marine shell gorgets and conchs, shell columella beads, stone pipes, copper masks and repoussé, copper-covered ornaments, and large chert bifaces. However, in the case of ancestral Caddo ceramic vessels, they were also traded and exchanged by Caddo peoples throughout the length of their settlement in East Texas for other kinds of goods as well as to help cement alliances, and this pattern of trade and exchange became especially common after ca. A.D. 1400 between certain parts of East Texas (i.e., the Neches River basin) and Central Texas aboriginal inhabitants, as Krieger had indicated more than 70 years ago.

Evidence of this trade and exchange is clearly denoted by the wide distribution of Caddo ceramic vessels from: Mississippian sites in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama; Plains Village sites in the Central and Southern Plains (i.e., the Washita River, Great Bend of the Arkansas River, Great Oasis, and Mill Creek cultures), and among hunting-gathering groups in the Texas Panhandle, Caprock Canyonlands, the La Junta area at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Conchos river, mission sites in South Texas and the central Texas Coast with Historic Caddo ceramics from the Neches-Angelina river basins, and Central Texas. Ceramic petrographic investigations also document the regular intra-regional exchange of ceramic vessels among Caddo groups in East Texas. When the de Soto-Moscoso entrada encountered Caddo groups in East Texas in 1542, and then in later 17th century Spanish entradas, the chroniclers did note the presence of cotton and turquoise that must have come from the Southwestern Pueblos, indicating that long-distance Caddo interregional trade and exchange continued into the 16th and late 17th centuries. Further evidence of the continued interregional trade after the late 17th century are sherds from Patton Engraved vessels from La Junta.

In this monograph, I discuss the character of the ceramic vessel sherds found on Central Texas sites, and one site in Dimmit County in southern Texas, that may have been made by Caddo peoples living in East Texas. These sherds have been the subject primarily of technological and stylistic analysis, but petrographic analysis and instrumental neutron activation analysis has also been done by other researchers for some assemblages. The purpose of these analyses has been to characterize these sherds with respect to their technological, stylistic, petrographic, and geochemical diversity, and also to establish if these sherds are from vessels manufactured locally or extra-locally. Specifically, the concern has been to establish through these various analyses if the sherds from certain Central Texas sites are from aboriginal vessels made in the general vicinity of the site from local clays, were made in other parts of Central Texas, or are sherds from vessels made in the Caddo area of East Texas.

At the present time, there are 34 counties in the overall region with sites that are likely to have Caddo ceramic vessel sherds, based on published descriptions, macroscopic analyses, and petrographic/chemical analyses. These counties are in the Blackland Prairie, Edwards Plateau, Llano Uplift, the southern part of the Rolling Plains, and the South Texas Brush Country. Most of the known sites and/or collections occur in the Blackland Prairie and Edwards Plateau in the Brazos River and Leon River basins. Of the 163 known sites and/or collections identified to date, 16.6 percent are in McLennan County, another 14.7 percent are in Hill County, 13.5 percent are in Coryell County, 8.6 percent are in Williamson County, and 6.1 percent are in Bell County.

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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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