33At982: A 6000 Year Old Settlement in Athens County, Ohio

Our Phase III excavations at site 33At982 resulted in the discovery of a 6000-year-old midden (layer of occupation refuse), with associated thermal features used for cooking and thermal comfort, and a rich array of artifacts including fire-cracked rock, lithic derbis, and stone tools.  The 4000 B.C. (6000 B.P.) occupation component is unique because there are no other examples of sites of this age in Ohio that have been documented at this scale.  All other reported radiometric dates from this period are associated with isolated features located within sites and rockshelters that contain later-period archaeological remains.

Site 33At982 also contains a Late Archaic component represented by a large, basin-shaped feature (calibrated, 2-sigma radiocarbon date range 2490-2140 B.C.) located slightly above and off to the side of the 6000-year-old occupation.  The feature yielded a small cache of three “killed” lanceolate points that we have dubbed the Coolville Lanceolate.  The Coolville Lanceolate is distinct from the few other known Late Archaic lanceolate types found in the Ohio Valley.  Our excavations also found evidence of two additional minor temporal components thought to date to the late Late Archaic and Late Woodland periods.

33Pk982 Excavations.

33Pk982 excavations.

33At982 Midden

The 6000-year-old buried midden (right and below) was identified by the presence of small pieces of fire-cracked rock and charcoal in a light colored substrate at the base of the plowzone.  It was everywhere when we stripped off the plowzone layer. At first glance, the site did not look like much and the midden was overlooked during the preceding Phase II work.

 

33At982 excavations.

33At982 excavations.

Our magnetic gradient data, however, detected many features, few of which were visible at the base of the plowzone. Guided by what we understood  from the magnetic data, we proceeded with the midden excavation, which entailed digging and screening 116 contiguous 1×1 meter hand units arrayed in a large excavation block.

As a result of these hand excavations into and through the midden, we identified 28 features; 16 of these are temporally associated with the midden.  Most were visible only in profile after cutting them in half (remember, we knew where they should be based on the magnetic survey). The profiles of these features often revealed a burned earth lining, large lenses of fire-cracked rock, and charcoal.

 

33At982 Radiocarbon Dates.

33At982 Radiocarbon Dates.

33At982 Dates

Nine radiometric dates from features (n=6) and midden (n=3) contexts range from 4250 B.C. to 3790 B.C. (cal. 2-sigma ranges).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooleville Lanceolates.

Cooleville Lanceolates.

Coolville Lanceolate

Three heavily burned, possibly “killed” lanceolates were found beneath a large slab of stone located near the center of a 2.75 m (9 ft) diameter feature revealed at the base of the plowzone.  This feature has a shallow, flat-bottomed profile and we think it might be a possible house basin.  The lance points were found in what may be a hearth within the house. Two radiometric dates from carbon samples found in the matrix surrounding the points range from 2490-2140 B.C. (cal. 2-sigma range).

 

 

6000 Year Old Midden Projectile Point Assemblage

Thirty-four exhausted and damaged projectile points were recovered from the midden and are associated with the circa 4000 B.C. radiometric dates.

Numerous other chipped stone tools, as well as exhausted bipolar cores and biface blanks were recovered from the midden and associated features.  Other tools were found as well, including true modified flakes, “end scrapers,” small bifacial tools, and a drill.

ca. 4000 BC Projectile Points.

ca. 4000 BC Projectile Points.

ca. 4000 BC Projectile Points.

ca. 4000 BC Projectile Points.

 

Cup-stones

Twenty-five cup-stones, made from sandstone and often recycled into FCR, were also recovered from the midden and associated features.  Fifity-five cups or pits were counted among these objects.