An Extraordinary Earth Oven Facility at Kelley Cave

Author(s): Stephen Black

Year: 2015


Feature 4 is a complex, well-preserved feature documented in Kelley Cave, a dry rockshelter in Eagle Nest Canyon that was investigated in 2013-2014 by the Ancient Southwest Texas Project of Texas State University. What we first recorded and still habitually refer to as "a feature" is a stratigraphically complex set of deposits and interfaces that formed near the mouth of the rockshelter over time. We think it represents an earth oven facility reused many times to bake agave lechuguilla, wild onion, and other plant resources. The evidence includes layers of discarded uncharred and charred plant fiber (e.g., cut leaf bases and quids), ash, charcoal, and fire-cracked rocks. The stratification is preserved owing to fortuitous circumstance. A very large roof-fall slab purposefully set upright has sheltered and protected deposits from slumping down the talus. Late in the facility’s use life, the 3m+ oven pit was filled with a thick layer of plant debris that was soon capped by a 3-5cm mud drape. The interlocked fiber-mud layers proved resistant to burrowing animals and has protected an exceptional archaeological record. This presentation highlights the field investigations, stratigraphy, and ongoing analyses.

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Cite this Record

An Extraordinary Earth Oven Facility at Kelley Cave. Stephen Black. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396756)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;