Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

A Revolution in Caddo Archaeology: The Remote Sensing and Archaeological View from the Hill Farm Site (41Bw169) in Bowie County, Texas

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

A Revolution in Caddo Archaeology: The Remote Sensing and Archaeological View from the Hill Farm Site (41Bw169) in Bowie County, Texas

Article excerpt

The use of remote sensing technologies on prehistoric and early historic Caddo sites is allowing for new and unprecedented views of the spatial structure and internal organization of Caddo villages and mound centers. Recent remote sensing work at the Hill Farm site (41BW169) on the Red River in northeast Texas, along with available archaeological information from the shallowly buried site, has led to an unusually detailed view of the archaeological character of ca. A.D. 1600-1700 Nasoni Caddo village compounds that can be linked with the 1691 Teran map. Remote sensing has considerable potential to lead to long-term collaborative archaeogeophysical and archaeological projects to understand Caddo community-scale organization and landscapes.


There is a revolution underway in Caddo archaeology, and its name is remote sensing. The use of remote sensing technologies on Caddo archaeological sites-in conjunction with archaeological excavations-is producing, and will continue to produce, unprecedented characterizations of the internal spatial structure and organization of Caddo villages and mound centers. We illustrate the importance of remote sensing for the present and future of Caddo archaeology by focusing on the remote sensing and archaeological findings from one Caddo village on the Red River in Bowie County, Texas. The Hill Farm site is part of the larger Hatchel site village (see Perttula 2005) and was occupied by the Nasoni Caddo between ca. A.D. 1600 and 1700.

The Nasoni Caddo village was visited by Europeans in 1687, 1690, and 1691, most famously by the Spanish expedition led by Don Domingo Teran de los Rios. On this expedition (Hatcher 1932,1999), a detailed map of this village was drawn that showed a temple mound and a number of village compounds (with house structures, granaries, and outdoor ramadas or arbors) (Wedel 1978:Figure 2; Perttula 2005:181). A convergence of large-scale remote sensing (Grealy and Conyers 2006), the smaller-scale remote sensing discussed below, geoarchaeological findings (Guccione and Hays 2006), and the archaeological discoveries at the Hill Farm site and other places at the Hatchel site (Perttula 2005) have led us to the specific identification of the Hill Farm site with two of the village compounds depicted on the 1691 Teran map. This in turn opens the door to the possibility that continued archaeological and remote investigations can, in effect, locate and ground truth the 1691 Teran map and different parts of the Nasoni Caddo village.

Remote Sensing in Caddo Archaeology

Archaeogeophysical prospecting using magnetometry, electromagnetic conductivity, electrical resistivity, ground-penetrating radar, and magnetic susceptibility have all been shown to be useful geophysical techniques for locating buried architectural remains on prehistoric Caddo mound sites, such as the George C. Davis site (Bruseth and Pierson 2004; Creel et al. 2005; Walker et al. 2003) and Horace Cabe Mounds (Walker and Perttula 2007) in northeastern Texas, and at various sites on the Grandview project in southwestern Arkansas (Schambach 2001, 2002; Schambach and Lockhart 2003; Lockhart 2006, 2007; Lockhart and Green 2006; Dalan 2006; Kvamme 2006). These techniques measure certain physical properties of the soil, such as magnetic conditions, electromagnetic conductivity, or electrical resistivity. Given the proper soil conditions, archaeological features such as fire hearths, post holes, and storage pits differ from the surrounding soil matrix, and can be recognized by distinctive spatial signatures in geophysical data sets from archaeological sites.

At the George C. Davis site, geophysical surveys, using a portable cesium magnetometer, on large blocks of land have proved successful in locating both large and small architectural features, particularly numerous Caddo structures (Bruseth and Pierson 2004:Figures 13; Creel et al. 2005). This work is contributing new information on the overall layout of structures around the mounds and across this large prehistoric site. …

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