The Buffalo Creek Archaeological Project, Volume 1: Background and Testing at 3MS346 and 3CG847 Mississippi and Craighead Counties, Arkansas. The Buffalo Creek Archaeological Project, Volume 2: Excavation of the Steele Site (3MS351), Mississippi County, Arkansas


This report describes archaeological test and data recovery excavations at three prehistoric sites in Mississippi and Craighead counties in northeast Arkansas sponsored by the Memphis District, Corps of Engineers. Archaeological site studies were carried out in advance of construction of the Buffalo Creek Diversion Canal and were designed to provide detailed evaluation of the sites' data content and to develop data recovery plans as necessary.

Field research was carried out in the summer of 1981, with laboratory analysis and report preparation in 1981, 1982, and early 1983. All work was funded by the Memphis District, Corps of Engineers, under a contract agreement between the District and Soil Systems, Inc. Over 500 one-meter square test pits were excavated at the three sites, along with testing by backhoe. Two of the sites, 3MS346, and 3CG847, were recommended to have little further scientific study potential. The third site, 3MS351, was recommlended as containing additional significant archaeological deposits. Further work beyond the testing phase was recommended for 3MS351 and was accomplished under modification of the agreement for testing.

All three sites contained evidence of occupation during the Woodland and Mississippian prehistoric periods. Site 3MS351 also contained artifacts dating to the preceding Archaic period. The test excavations are described in Volume I of this report; also present are discussions of the environmental and cultural setting of the project area and a review of previous research in the region.

Sites 3MS346 and 3CG847 were found to contain small Late Woodland period Dunklin (Barnes) Phase components. Site 3MS346 also contained an Early Mississippi period, Big Lake phase component. At 3CG847, Early Mississippi period material recovered included one point and 1ess than a dozen ceramic fragments. Although initial survey data had indicated strong research potential for both these sites, the 1981 field work indicated extensive destruction of deposits at both sites. This appeared to be due primarily to wind erosion of the dune deposits forming the site matrices. This wind erosion resulted in deflation and mixing of artifacts from different occupations, and, most probably, destruction of features that may have been present at the site.

Site 3MS351 was originally reported from survey information as small, with 1ess of a probability than 3MS346 and 3CG847 of producing significant data. However, the 1981 testing revealed that it was a large site with a long occupation history. Deposits of over a meter were relatively well preserved. These deposits included Dalton, several Archaic groups, Late Woodland, and Early Mississippian. After an extensive period of testing, several large data recovery blocks were excavated at 3MS351 in an attempt to uncover houses and other occupation - related structures. Excavations revealed that the site represented a series of small occupations along the edge of a braided stream. The central portion of the site appears to be a levee of that relict stream. Although no structural features were found (no house - post patterns or defined trash pits), the site deposits were not thoroughly mixed as at 3MS346 and 3CG847. Broad patterns of artifact superposition were present, and several artifact clusters were discovered. The 1ack of well defined features was thought to be due to leaching of organic materials through the porous, sandy soils of the site matrix. Also late prehistoric deposits may have been impacted by agricultural leveling of the relict levee area and by an historic occupation at the site.

The Dalton, Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippi components at 3MS351 would appear to represent small, short term camps, because of the paucity of artifacts present, especially the lack of lithics and the lack of definable activity areas. That conclusion, however, is questioned for these occupations, and a model involving the cost of lithic procurement in this area and its effects on archaeological assemblages is presented. It is hypothesized that lithic material is expensive to procure in this area of Arkansas, and this would result in careful artifact curation, resuse, and a quite different archaeological assemblage than would be expected where lithic material was easily procured.

Data recovery field methods and study results at 3MS351 are presented in Volume II of this report.

Cite this Record

The Buffalo Creek Archaeological Project, Volume 1: Background and Testing at 3MS346 and 3CG847 Mississippi and Craighead Counties, Arkansas. The Buffalo Creek Archaeological Project, Volume 2: Excavation of the Steele Site (3MS351), Mississippi County, Arkansas. Paul E. Brockington, Jr., A. Merrill Dicks, Wayne P. Glander, Soil Systems, Inc. Brockington and Associates, Inc. 1992 ( tDAR id: 391070) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8QV3NCC

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.714; min lat: 35.548 ; max long: -90.253; max lat: 35.798 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): A. Merrill Dicks; Wayne P. Glander

Principal Investigator(s): Paul E. Brockington, Jr.

Sponsor(s): USACE, Memphis District

Submitted To(s): Soil Systems, Inc; USACE, Memphis District

Record Identifiers

USACE Contract No.(s): DACW66-81-c-0082

Brockington and Associates, Inc., report number(s): 001

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