Friends of Northeast Texas Archaeology


The Hatchel site (41BW3) is a major ancestral Nasoni Caddo village and mound center on a natural levee deposit in the floodplain of the Red River in Bowie County, Texas, just a few kilometers west of the Arkansas state line. The site was occupied by the Caddo from at least A.D. 1040 to the late 17th century; the latest temporal estimate is based primarily on the association of the Hatchel platform mound with a mound and templo illustrated on a 1691 map drawn of the site during the Teran expedition, and selected decorated sherds and vessels in the uppermost mound zones; there are calibrated radiocarbon dates that extend to A.D. 1660 from other village areas or compounds.

The primary purpose of this study of the ceramic vessels, ceramic vessel sherds, ceramic pipes, and other clay artifacts from the WPA platform mound excavations at the Hatchel site has been to better understand the character of the ceramic artifacts from ancestral Caddo contexts at the site. This analysis is primarily focused on identifying the character of the ceramic tradition in place at the Hatchel site and its platform mound, temporal changes in the manufacture and use of these ceramic artifacts, as well as attributes specific to those artifacts (i.e., the use of pigments, or the use of long-stemmed versus elbow pipes and platform pipes) from sub-mound deposits (Zone K), the first primary platform mound (Zone I and J), and the series of temple mound structures in Zones A-H, the second primary platform mound. The characteristics recognized in the ceramic vessels, vessel sections, and ceramic vessel sherds at the Hatchel mound are also compared to and contrasted with other contemporaneous Red River basin ceramic assemblages, particularly Texarkana and Belcher phase assemblages from sites near to Hatchel, as well as along the Red River in southwestern Arkansas and northwestern Louisiana.

The ceramic assemblage from the Hatchel site platform mound at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory discussed in this volume includes 18 vessels, 59 partially complete vessel sections, 15,041 ceramic vessel sherds, 45 sherds from elbow, tubular, platform, and long-stemmed pipes, 26 spindle whorls, and 11 ceramic disks. There are also a few pieces of daub and burned clay in the assemblage. The ceramic sherd assemblage includes 9818 plain rim, body, and base sherds, 2507 utility ware rim and body sherds, and 2718 fine ware rim and body sherds. About 89 percent of the sherds in the Hatchel mound excavations are from vessels tempered only with grog (i.e., crushed sherds). There is very little difference in the use of tempers in the plain ware, utility ware, and fine ware vessel sherds in the platform mound deposits, as grog temper is present in between 87.0-90.3 percent of the sherds in the three wares.

The decorated ceramic vessel sherds in and under the Hatchel platform mound can be segregated into four different groups based on zone stratigraphy, estimated temporal differences, and different proportions of specific kinds of utility ware and fine ware sherds in each zone:

  • Group I, Zones A-D, ca. A.D. 1600-1691
  • Group II, Zones E-F, ca. A.D. 1550-1600
  • Group III, Zones G-J and Above Zone K, ca. A.D. 1500-1550, with the rapid construction of the primary platform (zones I-J) at or about A.D. 1500
  • Group IV, Zone K and Below Zone K, pre-A.D. 1200

Groups I-III represent Late Caddo period Texarkana ceramic assemblages, and Group IV is part of an Early Caddo period use of the Hatchel site before the eventual establishment of Texarkana phase village areas by ca. A.D. 1450 and the ca. A.D. 1500 construction of the platform mound over the Zone K archaeological deposits. Although the Early Caddo assemblage is separated in time by ca. 300 years from the beginning of construction and use of the primary platform mound in Zones I and J, nevertheless the primary platform mound was constructed directly atop important ritually used structures in Zone K.

The earliest Caddo component in the platform mound excavations at the Hatchel site is in Zone K, and is best represented by Crockett Curvilinear Incised sherds and one vessel, as well as var. Graves Chapel and var. Haley long-stemmed Red River pipes. The settlement responsible for the Zone K structures and the ceramic assemblage is estimated to date between ca. A.D. 1040-1200.

Zones G-J (dating ca. A.D. 1500-1550) are characterized by Bassett arrow points, elbow pipes and a platform pipe, a bulbous arrow point form, and a range of fine ware and utility ware vessels and vessel sections. Specific to these zones are vessels of Avery Engraved, var. Bradshaw, Bowie Engraved, an appliqued bowl, and a Moore Noded bowl. Other ceramic types that first appear in zones G-J, but are also made and used in later zones, include Simms Engraved, Belcher Engraved, Foster Trailed-Incised, McKinney Plain, and Barkman Engraved.

In Zones E-F (dating ca. A.D. 1550-1600), triangular Maud arrow points began to be manufactured and used by the Nasoni Caddo at the Hatchel site, and continued in use (in Zones A-D) until ca. A.D. 1691. The ceramic vessels and vessel sections specific to Zones E-F are Hatchel Engraved, Keno Trailed, and Foster Trailed-Incised, while Simms Engraved, Avery Engraved, and Barkman Engraved types are shared primarily with the Zone G-J ceramic assemblages.

Zones A-D are the latest structural zones in the Hatchel mound, and they have their own distinctive sets of arrow point (Maud), tubular pipes, and ceramic types in the vessels and vessel sections. The ceramic types in these zones include Cowhide Stamped and Hodges Engraved in Zones A and B, Avery Engraved from Zone D, and Belcher Engraved and Simms Engraved in Zones B and C, respectively. None of the recovered ceramics in Zone A, the latest of the mound zones, are specifically from identified Historic Caddo Red River ceramic types such as Natchitoches Engraved, several varieties of Foster Trailed-Incised, Keno Trailed, and Hodges Engraved, that date from ca. A.D. 1690-1730. This strongly suggests that although the platform mound at the Hatchel site was apparently occupied in 1691 during the time of the Teran expedition to the site, it was abandoned very shortly thereafter, as was much of the Nasoni Caddo community.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
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