Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Spatial Analysis and Site Structure of the Early Archaic Occupation of the Hart Site (15la183), Lawrence County, Kentucky

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Spatial Analysis and Site Structure of the Early Archaic Occupation of the Hart Site (15la183), Lawrence County, Kentucky

Article excerpt

Excavations at the Hart site revealed several buried occupations dating to the Early Archaic subperiod. Spatial analysis was conducted of the Bifurcate horizon. The results suggest that activities were centered around features, mostly hearths. Little clean up of refuse was indicated. Such would be expected on sites that were occupied for short durations. The remains likely represent several occupations with similar activities being conducted during each site visit. Reoccupation of the site has likely resulted in some overlap of activities. However, general spatial patterns remain at the site, suggesting a redundant use of this location during the Early Archaic subperiod.

The Hart site (15La183) was a multicomponent prehistoric (Early Archaic to Late Woodland) site located on the left descending bank of the Big Sandy River north of Louisa, Kentucky (Figure 1). The site was located approximately 0.75 km south of Mill Branch, a small tributary of the Big Sandy and 1.5 km north of the confluence of Blaine Creek and the Big Sandy River. Phase III data recovery excavations were conducted at the site in order to sample an intact, buried horizon. Excavations within the buried portion of the site produced Bifurcate Base (n = 11), Kirk Stemmed (n = 4), and Stanly Cluster (n = 1) hafted bifaces indicating an Early Archaic affiliation (Justice 1987). Analysis of the buried materials indicated that they represent multiple site visits within the Early Archaic subperiod. Archaeological investigations at the site included hand excavation in a block area within the levels that produced Early Archaic materials during previous fieldwork. Ten features were identified and excavated within the Early Archaic deposit. Cultural material recovered from the block excavations consisted of lithic artifacts and a few botanical specimens.

To aid in understanding the nature of the Early Archaic occupations, site structure analysis was undertaken employing both quantitative and nonquantitative approaches. The latter draws from expectations based on ethnoarchaeological data and the former relies on formal spatial analysis methods. While the data suggest multiple site visits, the time span between occupations was not great enough to allow for significant stratigraphic separation between the occupations. Site structure analysis was used as a means to tease out information concerning prehistoric use of this location. The focus of this paper is on the results of the spatial analysis of the Early Archaic horizon.

Background

The Hart site is situated on a series of landforms in a narrow valley formed by the Big Sandy River. The Big Sandy River Valley in this area consists of a narrow active floodplain approximately 4 m above normal water level and multiple terrace and swale features approximately 8.5 m (approximately 28 ft) above the active floodplain. The valley is approximately 550 m wide in this area, and the Big Sandy River is currently positioned on the east side of the valley near to the uplands. The site itself was situated on two terraces of the Big Sandy River. The younger first terrace near the river formed during the Middle Holocene, and the older second terrace was probably formed during the Early Holocene (Kerr 2004).

The archaeological investigations identified plowdisturbed near-surface prehistoric deposits and plowtruncated prehistoric features across the Tl terrace. Diagnostic artifacts (pottery and hafted bifaces) recovered from the plow zone and sub-plow zone deposits suggested that this portion of the site was occupied sporadically from the Late Archaic to the Late Woodland subperiods.

Subsurface investigations, including backhoe trenching and hand excavations, revealed evidence of cultural materials below the surface deposits including intact, buried cultural zones. These consisted of charcoal, burnt clay, fire-cracked rock, and features concentrated in two horizontally distinct areas. These two areas are referred to as the Northern Buried Locality and Southern Buried Locality. …

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