Only a tiny sliver of the site is in ODOT right of way, so the area in which we can work is very limited. We've got some points and flakes, several pieces of pottery, animal bones and mussel shells, and lots of daub (i.e., clay used to cover the walls of houses). We're working in what might be a trash pit, and we're hoping to work on a couple of more units so that we'll know for sure.
We've had really fantastic community support and interest in the work. Almost every day that we've been out there, a few people have stopped by to see what we're doing. And then one day, the local newspaperman visited, and Lauren graciously gave him an extended tour of the site. He snapped a couple of photos and listened as Lauren described the site and its importance. A couple of days later, the landowners dropped off a copy of the Medford Patriot-Star, and we'd made the front page.
Now, the newspaper guy wrote up a nice little article to accompany these pictures, but I'm not including it here for a couple of reasons.
First, he accurately describes the site's location. We're along a state highway, so it's not a closely guarded secret, and everyone in the area sees us on their way to town. However, I'd rather not put that information on the internet, for the sake of the site's integrity. And for the sake of the landowner's cows. I wouldn't want them breaking their legs in some pot hunters' looted-out holes.
And second, the guy from the paper got a few things wrong, and I'd rather not perpetuate the misinformation. I will take the opportunity to clarify some points, though.
- Lauren is actually an archaeologist, and I'm the Tribal Liaison; though our office is located at the Oklahoma Archeological Survey, we are employed by ODOT.
- This site is the 47th archaeological site recorded in Grant County, and that's pretty impressive since most counties have a lot more sites recorded. For example, LeFlore County in southeastern Oklahoma has over 1200 recorded sites.
- This is only one of a couple of excavations (not surveys) that ODOT does in any given year. We do over 200 archaeological surveys every year.
- The site was discovered by Lauren on one of our routine surveys.
We taken some samples of charcoal at various depths and will send it to a lab for dating. Based on the projectile points we've found, though, the site is probably 1,000 years old.
So, that's what has kept me so busy over the last few weeks. Usually we go out there for the day and come back in the afternoon, but have done several more extended stays. If you're ever in Ponca City, I recommend the monster-sized margaritas at El Patio. They really hit the spot after a day in the sun and dirt.