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3 January 2009
Prehistoric artifacts unearthed in Oklahoma

Archaeologists recently unearthed about 16,000 stone artifacts at a site for a new Delaware County bridge (Oklahoma, USA), offering scientists clues to how a prehistoric culture lived, a scientist said. "It's another piece of the jigsaw puzzle," said archaeologist Grant Day, who supervised an excavation at Spavinaw Creek that ended in mid-December. "It's pretty rare that you get to find a piece of the puzzle. We don't know yet exactly where it fits, but we're going to find out with the analysis."
     Day is a senior archaeologist and project manager for AMEC Earth and Environmental, a worldwide company that headed the roughly 20-day dig. A 12-person archaeological crew dug 54 holes during the project, finding as many as 1,000 artifacts in some of the 1-by-2-meter units, Day said. AMEC will issue a preliminary report on its findings in January and spend up to a year putting the artifacts in prehistoric context, Day said. The lithics, or stone-made artifacts, are said to be from 2,000 to 8,000 years old and appear to have come from two campsites, he said.
     Inhabitants likely harvested chert a silica-rich, sedimentary rock from nearby creeks to make tools, Day said. "They could come here and camp, make nice arrow and spear points," he said. "They had the raw material available right there. They might have even packed some of that up for trade and taken it back to their main village to work on later."
     After the artifacts are washed and catalogued at an AMEC lab in Jefferson City, Mo., they eventually will be curated at the Institute of the Great Plains in Lawton, Day said. Analysis of the stone tools will tell archaeologists how they were used, he said. "If we find a lot of scrapers, tools that show wear for scraping hides, you're right back to a hunting site," Day said. "If they were cutting tubers or collecting plant materials, their wear patterns on the tools would be different."

Sources: Tulsa World, Associated Press, KFSM (28 December 2008)

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