Salt Production and Economic Specialization at Drake’s Salt Works

Author(s): Ian Brown; Paul Eubanks

Year: 2015


The Drake’s Salt Works Site Complex in northwestern Louisiana was one of the most intensively-utilized salt production sites in the south-central United States during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. According to the historic record, the Caddo salt makers at this saline were capable of producing hundreds of pounds of salt each year to sell to nearby European and American Indian groups. Given the limited availability of salt away from coastal areas, participating in the production and exchange of salt at inland salt springs, such as Drake’s Salt Works, would have been a profitable economic venture. Using recent archaeological data from a stratified midden of salt production debris and two habitation zones, this paper examines the intensity of Caddo salt production at Drake’s Salt Works. An analysis of salt production vessel rim diameter and thickness from the stratified midden indicates that vessel standardization remained relatively consistent through time. Additionally, the data from the two habitation zones suggest that the salt makers worked at this site on a seasonal or opportunistic basis. Thus, it would appear that the Caddo were able to meet and profit from the local demands for salt without the need for full-time economic specialization.

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Cite this Record

Salt Production and Economic Specialization at Drake’s Salt Works. Paul Eubanks, Ian Brown. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397331)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;