The Elk Hill Site, 14RY328: Survey and Testing in Riley County, Kansas


In 2009 the Kansas Department of Transportation requested cultural resources consultation with the Contract Archeology Program of the Kansas Historical Society and the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office regarding a proposed borrow area associated with the reconstruction of Highway K-18, KDOT project 18-81 KA-0410-01, SFBA no. 1. A Phase II survey conducted by the Contract Archeology Program led to the discovery and documentation of three archeological sites: 14RY328, the Elk Hill site; 14RY329; and 14RY330. All three sites were recommended for Phase III National Register of Historic Places eligibility testing.

Because of the urgency of the project, limited Phase III testing was implemented at 14RY328 before the completion of the survey of the project area. The test excavations are the focus of this report; the survey also is described.

Testing indicates the presence of Late Woodland and Central Plains tradition Smoky Hill phase components. The Late Woodland component is represented by only one arrow point, but ceramic vessel fragments and triangular arrow points, as well as areas of charcoal and burned earth, indicate a more robust Central Plains tradition occupation at the site. This occupation is confirmed by radiocarbon age determinations of 580±70 and 820±70 with median probabilities of 1356 and 1200 CE from buried, intact occupation layers at the site. Nine test excavation units encountered four features. These include a probable house floor (Feature 3), two pits (Features 1 and 2), and an artifact concentration (Feature 4).

The recovered artifact assemblage is consistent with a Central Plains tradition component. Chipped stone tools are made predominantly from local Permian-aged chert and include notched triangular arrow points, scrapers, bifacial and unifacial knives, and cores. Pottery sherds are consistent with the Central Plains tradition Riley cord-roughened type. Visible temper in the ceramic sherds consists of sand, grit, grog, and shell. Some sherds show combinations of temper types. Several sherds are decorated with incised designs.

Only 5.9 g of faunal material—bone and a mussel shell—were recovered. Plant remains are represented by two maize cupules, one maize glume, two monocot stem fragments, and one Polygonum sp. seed.

The Elk Hill site provides information on a habitation site at the southeastern edge of the Smoky Hill phase of the Central Plains tradition. It is relatively undisturbed and in our opinion it is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cite this Record

The Elk Hill Site, 14RY328: Survey and Testing in Riley County, Kansas. Robert J. Hoard, Gina S. Powell, Tricia J. Waggoner, Chris Garst. Kansas Historical Society Contract Archeology Publication ,27. Topeka, KS: Kansas Historical Society. 2014 ( tDAR id: 391885) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8CF9R1K

Spatial Coverage

min long: -96.721; min lat: 39.108 ; max long: -96.688; max lat: 39.14 ;

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Contact(s): Robert J. Hoard


General Note: CRM report

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  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
B5447.pdf 13.79mb Jan 14, 2014 Jan 14, 2014 1:01:13 PM Confidential
Report of survey and testing in advance of highway construction. Testing indicated a ca. 1300 CE Smoky Hill phase Central Plains tradition habitation site.

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Contact(s): Robert J. Hoard