Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

The Grobin Davis Site: Archaeogeophysics and Settlement Patterns at Caddo Mound Centers in Southeastern Oklahoma

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

The Grobin Davis Site: Archaeogeophysics and Settlement Patterns at Caddo Mound Centers in Southeastern Oklahoma

Article excerpt

The Grobin Davis (34MC253) mound complex is one of the largest and certainly the best-preserved Caddo mound site in eastern Oklahoma (Figure 1). The site is made up of seven mounds arranged in a horseshoe shape on a terrace of the Little River (Figure 2). Unlike many contemporaneous mound sites in the region, it has never been heavily looted, has not been the focus of substantial archaeological excavations, and has escaped being submerged by a stream impoundment. While looters and professional archaeologists alike have been active in the region for well over a century, the site remained untouched by either group until the late 1970s. Since the site was recorded, the only professional fieldwork consisted of limited eligibility testing in 1983 by a crew from the Oklahoma Archeological Survey. After the testing, the Archaeological Conservancy purchased the site and no further archaeological work has been undertaken. The initial testing confirmed the seven earthen mounds were manmade features, established rough occupation dates of A.D. 1200-1400, and indicated the presence of a possible sheet midden in areas of the site. Given the limited extent of the excavations, numerous questions remain about the role of Grobin Davis in the daily and ritual lives of the prehistoric Caddo of the Little River drainage. Did the site have any sustained year-round occupation or was it a vacant ceremonial center with a small resident population of religious specialists? How did each of the seven mounds at the site fit into the broader categories of mounds constructed by the prehistoric Caddo? Was the horseshoe configuration of mounds part of a larger site plan that incorporated a plaza area and residential buildings?

Between November 2011 and February 2012, we conducted a gradiometer survey of approximately 32,400 m2 of the 10-ha site (see Figure 2). In recent years, archaeological geophysics has moved beyond a simple prospection tool and can be used to generate information on a site-wide scale, including site plans and broader issues of landscape utilization (Kvamme 2003). Understanding the site plan will also allow us to consider the ways in which the site was integrated into the regional ritual landscape, as part of the broader application of geophysical research (Thompson et al. 2011). This article presents the results of the survey and summarizes prior excavations in order to better understand the role of Grobin Davis in the political and religious landscape of the prehistoric Caddo of southeast Oklahoma and the larger Caddo region as a whole as part of an ongoing regional research effort (Dowd 2011, 2012; Hammerstedt et al. 2010; Regnier 2012, 2013; Regnier and Dowd 2013; Regnier et al. 2013).

Site Background

Previous Archaeological Investigations

The Grobin Davis mounds are at the confluence of the Little River and White Oak Creek in the rolling piedmont territory between the Coastal Plain of the Red River and the southern extent of the Ouachita Mountains. The Little River originates in the Ouachita Mountains, where it flows west, turns south, and finally turns southeast, paralleling the Red River, which it eventually joins just west of the Great Bend region. Living along the Little River allowed the prehistoric Caddo access to the resources of the western Ouachita Mountains as well as the rich alluvial soils of the Red River valley, located just 17 km south across intervening limestone uplands with stands of bois d'arc (Wyckoff and Fisher 1985:3). A number of Caddo sites were recorded upstream before the 1967 construction of the Pine Creek Reservoir, but Grobin Davis is the only recorded mound site on the Little River between the dam and the Arkansas border. Despite this, Grobin Davis is not isolated on the landscape. The site is just a few kilometers upstream of the confluence of the Little River and the southward flowing Glover River, where numerous mound and habitation sites have been recorded (see Figure 1). The site is only 6 km from the multiple mound center Clement (34MC8-10), the nearby A. …

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