Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Geophysical Investigations of Late Fourche Maline and Early Caddo Settlement Patterning at the Crenshaw Site (3Mi6)

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Geophysical Investigations of Late Fourche Maline and Early Caddo Settlement Patterning at the Crenshaw Site (3Mi6)

Article excerpt

The Crenshaw Site

The Crenshaw site (3MI6), located in the Great Bend region of the Red River in southwestern Arkansas, is currently thought to be one of the oldest prehistoric Caddo ceremonial centers in the Caddo area (Schambach 1996). As the Red River flows out of Oklahoma and Texas into Arkansas, the river forms the Great Bend, changing directions from an easterly flow to a course to the south. Crenshaw is found here, centrally located in the Trans-Mississippi South and within the southern Caddo area (Perttula 2009:Figure 1), which partially overlaps geographically with the Trans-Mississippi South (Schambach 1971, 1998).

Crenshaw has long been recognized as having occupations by both Caddo and "pre-Caddo" traditions (Lemley 1936). Frank Schambach (1998) identified the aboriginal people who lived at the site prior to the Caddo occupation as belonging to the Woodland period Fourche Maline Culture (ca. 800 B.C. to A.D. 900), based on his work at the Cooper and Means sites in southwestern Arkansas as well as on the range of Fourche Maline culture artifacts and archaeological deposits found there. Schambach (2001:21) has also argued, based partially on the occupations at Crenshaw, that the Fourche Maline culture is the mother culture of the Caddo Culture. However, much still needs to be understood about the Fourche Maline and Early Caddo traditions to describe them as cultures. Since both Fourche Maline and Caddo tradition ways of life are well represented in the archaeological record at the Crenshaw site, significant discoveries may be made there about the formation of the Caddo tradition from ancestral Fourche Maline groups.

The Fourche Maline tradition is represented at the site during the Crenshaw phase (A.D. 700-900) (Schambach 2001:Table 1). Following the Fourche Maline era, the Caddo tradition appeared at the Crenshaw site at ca. A.D. 900 and lasted until ca. 1400. The Early Caddo remains at the Crenshaw site belong to the Lost Prairie phase (A.D. 900-1200), while a few pottery types associated with burials indicate they are associated with a Middle Caddo Haley phase (A.D. 1200-1400) occupation.1

Crenshaw had six mounds (A through F) at the time of Clarence B. Moore's (1912) test excavations of the site (Figure 1). Moore dug test pits in each mound and found several Caddo burial shafts in Mounds B, C, and D, but he did not discover any burials in Mounds A, E, or F. Judge Harry J. Lemley and Glen Martin fully excavated Mounds B and D between 1933 and 1935, producing a fair amount of documentation. Mound D contained mostly scattered Fourche Maline burials with two Caddo shaft graves through the top of the mound. Mound B contained a few intrusive Caddo shaft burials with several Fourche Maline burials beneath the mound. Collectors destroyed much of Mound C in 1961 (Durham and Davis 1975), but the University of Arkansas Museum conducted a salvage excavation of the central portion of the mound to recover as much information as possible about its character (Wood 1963). Mound C contained Caddo shaft burials and Fourche Maline burials, which were either beneath the mound or capped over during mound construction. Mound F was partially excavated in 1969 by Dr. and Mrs. R. K. Harrison, the landowners at the time. They dug three trenches through the mound and discovered a large mass grave of at least 30 individuals underneath the mound. The trenches were backfilled and much of the mound remains intact today. Mounds A and E are on the west side of the site and are largely well preserved aside from the years of pot holes dug into their surfaces.

Excavations and/or looting episodes at Crenshaw have exposed seven cemeteries and at least one Early Caddo special use structure. Judge Harry J. Lemley, Glen Martin, and M. Pete Miroir documented four of these cemeteries. The documentation of the other three by Frank Schambach relied on information from looter pits. In 1969, Frank Schambach (1982a.T52 and Figure 74) discovered a pile of over 2,000 deer antler just south of a large ash bed, in what has been named the "Antler Temple," at the southern end of the site, containing various debris associated with Early Caddo ceremonial use Qackson et al. …

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