http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation Environmental Programs employees Andrea Taylor and Linda Pence screen through dirt looking for stone materials during an excavation near Bell, Oklahoma. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs employees Andrea Taylor and Linda Pence screen through dirt looking for stone materials during an excavation near Bell, Oklahoma. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Adair County excavation unveils stone tools

Stone artifacts found at an excavation in Adair County included a square-headed nail. The project was initially from a road construction project. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Archeologist Christopher Cojeen holds an “arrowhead” base an example of the stone materials an excavation in Adair County is producing. The dig came after a road construction project unearthed materials that may prove to be significant. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Stone artifacts found at an excavation in Adair County included a square-headed nail. The project was initially from a road construction project. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
03/17/2017 09:00 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
BELL, Okla. – Christopher Cojeen, a Cherokee Nation-contracted archeologist, CN Environmental Programs employees and an archeological team returned to an Adair County excavation site for more digging to determine its significance.

Cojeen said during the past 20 to 25 years he has worked with the tribe to determine if there are homesteads or prehistoric sites located in the path of projects that use tribal or federal funds such as roads, community services buildings or housing projects.

The Adair County excavation stemmed from a CN road construction project.

Cojeen and others recently performed an initial site visit, and after visually seeing a large amount of material on the surface, it was determined that a second phase of testing was necessary.

“Once we find a prehistoric site and we think it has potential to yield more scientific information, we’ll come out and start test units, and based on these test units, determine whether the site has significance,” Cojeen said.

Each test unit is roughly a 3-foot-square hole dug with the soil being removed in 10-centimeter layers.

“This site had a high quantity of lithic or stone material and stone tools on the surface, and as we dig down we collected into baggies, screening the dirt, the stone tools and the stone flakes from a campsite and based on that, determine how old a site is and whether the site continues down below the surface,” he said.

Cojeen said the site might be anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 years old. A waterway is the first clue to determining a site because individuals would always camp near one.

The excavation process has yielded stone tools such as arrowheads. However, at the age they are being estimated, they would more likely be atlatl or throwing darts, he said.

“We’ve found as many as three or more dart points per level. That’s a high recovery and an extensive amount of flake material. Flake material is the waste flakes off the cobble of stone that you’re trying to turn into a tool,” he said.

Also found were seven chip stone hoes that would indicate early horticulture occurring 2,000 to 3,000 years ago in the remote setting. He said that is significant to know because it’s indicative of when horticulture in the area was beginning.

Because of the tools’ recovery, Cojeen said the excavation period was extended through mid-March. The objective is to determine if the site is significant, and that would be based on a national register of historic places, he said.

“The quantity of artifacts would help to determine that, but finding features such as buried campsites, living foundations like that would help to add the significance of the site,” he said.
Cojeen said the site hasn’t been impacted by a plow zone and has had a heavy recovery, but there hadn’t been any definitive features found.

He said it would take time to determine material types and how many stone tools, but he expects to have a decision on how significant the site is once all excavation is done and once the team has moved to the lab to review all materials found.

“By summer we’d hope to have a report out,” he said.

News

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BY STAFF REPORTS
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Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
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