Timothy K. Perttula is an Affiliated Researcher at TARL. This article is part of the March 2018 TARL Newsletter.
41AG22 is an Historic Caddo site on Jack Creek in the Neches River basin, about 10 km southwest of Lufkin, Texas (Figure 1). The site was located and recorded in November 1939 by Gus Arnold as ET-622 of the University of Texas during the WPA-sponsored archaeological survey of East Texas. This ancestral Caddo site covered about 3 acres in a plowed field, and was marked by three possible mounds about 18-23 m in diameter.
In 1924, the landowner, a Mr. Jumper, plowed the land where the site is located, and uncovered a human burial with a European trade and glass beads. About 10 years later, Jack Creek flooded and cut a channel through one of the possible mounds, exposing more human remains and ceramic sherds. When Arnold visited the site in November 1939, he collected ancestral Caddo ceramic sherds, lithic tools and debris, and one human molar from the plowed field. As part of long-term East Texas Caddo archaeological research, I recently analyzed the ceramic sherds from the site held by the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin (TARL).
Five of the 199 sherds in the 41AG22 ceramic assemblage are from sandy paste Goose Creek Plain, var. unspecified vessels. These are indicative of a Mossy Grove Culture occupation at the site during some part of the Woodland period (ca. 500 B.C. to A.D. 800). The remainder of the ceramic sherds from 41AG22 (n=194) are from ancestral Caddo vessels. When Dee Ann Story examined the 41AG22 sherds in 1985, she suggested that the site had “at least two components—Early Ceramic (sandy paste sherds & dart points) and Late Caddoan. Very high frequency of brushing suggests quite late Caddoan. Notable is the thickness of some brushed sherds and the incidence of brushed-incised.”
The ancestral Caddo sherds from the sherd are overwhelmingly (91 percent) from grog-tempered vessels. Eight percent of the sherds are from vessels with grog and/or bone or crushed hematite inclusions, and only 0.5 percent of the Caddo sherds are tempered solely with bone.
Only about 15 percent of the ceramic sherds are from plain vessels or the undecorated portions of decorated vessels. One of the plain body sherds has a 5.4 mm drilled perforation, and this sherd may have been used as a spindle whorl. The remainder are from utility ware vessels (n=158, or 95.8 percent of the decorated sherds) or fine ware vessels (n=7, 4.2 percent of the decorated sherds). The plain to decorated sherd ratio (P/DR) of the assemblage is 0.18, consistent with Allen phase sites in the Neches River basin to the north (Perttula and Stingley 2017:Table 22) as well as a few of the Allen phase sites on Bayou Loco in the Angelina River basin, east of 41AG22 (Perttula and Marceaux 2018:Tables 17 and 18). The brushed to plain sherd ratio of the 41AG22 assemblage is 5.17, and the ratio of brushed to other wet paste sherds is 3.75; both ratios are consistent with an East Texas Allen phase ceramic affiliation.
More than 90 percent of the decorated sherds from 41AG22 have brushing marks, either as the sole form of decoration, or in conjunction with appliqued, incised, or punctated decorative elements. The brushed sherds are from Bullard Brushed vessels that have horizontal or vertical-diagonal brushing marks on the rim and opposed, overlapping, and parallel (likely vertically oriented) brushing marks on the vessel body. A number of the brushed-incised (n=20) and the brushed-punctated (n=2) sherds are also from Bullard Brushed vessels. Many of these sherds are from large and thick (>12-15 mm) jars.
One brushed-appliqued body sherd has diagonal brushing marks and a straight appliqued fillet (Figure 2a). Thirteen brushed-incised body sherds are from Spradley Brushed-Incised jars. This utility ware is found on Historic Caddo Allen phase sites in the Neches-Angelina river basins in East Texas. It consists of parallel brushing elements with overlapping straight incised lines that are opposed or perpendicular to the brushing.
The two sherds with parallel grooves in the 41AG22 assemblage are from a Lindsey Grooved vessel. Lindsey Grooved is an Allen phase utility ware type comprised of large bowls or jars with direct or slightly everted rims. The rims have shallow horizontal grooves. Lindsey Grooved vessels also occur in conjunction with appliqued, brushed, incised, or punctated elements, typically placed either at the rim-body juncture or on the vessel body. Other utility ware sherds have incised, incised-punctated, and punctated elements on rim and body sherds from vessels of unknown types. One of the incised-punctated sherds has two closely-spaced horizontal incised lines and an associated row of triangular-shaped punctations (see Figure 2b).
The fine ware sherds in the 41AG22 assemblage include sherds from vessels with engraved (n=6) or trailed (n=1) lines. Three of the engraved sherds are from Patton Engraved vessels; such fine wares are one of the principal types in Historic Caddo Allen phase sites in East Texas. One of the Patton Engraved body sherds has upper and lower parallel rows of linear tick marks, and is from a Patton Engraved, var. Allen vessel (Perttula 2011:Figure 6-66a). The other two Patton Engraved sherds cannot be identified to a specific variety (Figure 3a-b). Another engraved rim sherd has both horizontal and vertical engraved lines (Figure 3c). Two other engraved sherds are from different carinated bowls. The first (Figure 3d) has horizontal engraved lines and a diagonal/cross-hatched zone between two of the horizontal engraved lines. The second carinated bowl sherd has opposed diagonal engraved lines and zones filled with diagonal hatched lines (Figure 3e). The parallel trailed sherd is likely from a post-A.D. 1680 Keno Trailed vessel, probably a bowl (see Suhm and Jelks 1962:Plate 44; Schambach and Miller 1984:123).
This analysis of the TARL collections from the site indicates that it was used first during the Woodland period, but that the principal use of the site was by Caddo peoples affiliated with Hasinai Caddo groups after ca. A.D. 1680 and up to ca. A.D. 1730, based on the recovery of primarily grog-tempered vessel sherds from known Allen phase ceramic types, including Patton Engraved, Lindsey Grooved, and Spradley Brushed-Incised, and one sherd of Keno Trailed. The specific cultural affiliation of the Caddo occupants of 41AG22 is not known, as almost all of the ethnographic and archival documents concern Caddo groups living near the Camino Real de los Tejas, not farther down the Neches River (see Perttula 1992:Figure 22). The Nacono are one possibility, as they lived below and to the south of the Camino Real, but they are only mentioned infrequently after ca. A.D. 1716 in archival documents, and may have “lost their separate ethnic and band identity” (Perttula 1992:220) by that time.
Perttula, T. K.
1992 “The Caddo Nation”: Archaeological and Ethnohistoric Perspectives. University of Texas Press, Austin.
2011 The Ceramic Artifacts from the Lang Pasture Site (41AN38) and the Place of the Site within an Upper Neches River Basin Caddo Ceramic Tradition. In Archeological Investigations at the Lang Pasture Site (41AN38) in the Upper Neches River Basin of East Texas, assembled and edited by T. K. Perttula, D. B. Kelley, and R. A. Ricklis, pp. 145-320. Archeological Studies Program Report No. 129, Texas Department of Transportation, Environmental Affairs Division, Austin.
Perttula, T. K. and P. Marceaux
2018 The Lithic and Ceramic Artifacts from the Spradley Site (41NA206), Nacogdoches County, Texas. Special Publication No. 50. Friends of Northeast Texas Archaeology, Austin and Pittsburg.
Perttula, T. K. and K. Stingley
2017 Archaeological Investigations at the Walnut Branch (41CE47), Ross I (41CE485), and Ross II (41CE486) Sites, Cherokee County, Texas. Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology 76:31-70.
Schambach, F. F. and J. E. Miller
1984 A Description and Analysis of the Ceramics. In Cedar Grove: An Interdisciplinary Investigation of a Late Caddo Farmstead in the Red River Valley, edited by N. L. Trubowitz, pp. 109-170. Research Series No. 23. Arkansas Archeological Survey, Fayetteville.
Suhm, D. A. and E. B. Jelks (editors)
1962 Handbook of Texas Archeology: Type Descriptions. Special Publication No. 1, Texas Archeological Society, and Bulletin No. 4, Texas Memorial Museum, Austin.