A settlement pattern analysis of prehistoric sites in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky


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A settlement pattern analysis of prehistoric sites in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
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xiii, 583 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Prentice, Guy Louis, 1954-
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1995.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 348-387).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Guy Louis Prentice.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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Guy Louis Prentice


This study is the result of the hard work of many individuals and

institutions, whose efforts and contributions extended over three years of field

work and four years of analysis. I am deeply indebted to all of those persons

who in one way or another participated in the Mammoth Cave National Park

Archeological Inventory Project.

I would like to thank the following Mammoth Cave National Park staff

for their help and cooperation during the three field seasons at the Park:

Frank Pridemore, Park Superintendent (1987); David Mihalic, Park

Superintendent (1988-1989); Phil Valuzet, Chief Ranger; Joe Wagoner, Chief

Park Interpreter; Steve Chaney, Chief of the Office of Science and Resource

Management; Bob Ward, Cultural Resource Management Specialist; Jim

Waddle, Assistant Chief Ranger; Henry Holman, Park Ranger; Ken Kern, Park

Ranger; Maxwell Vincent, Park Ranger; Conley Armour, Park Ranger; George

Gregory, Natural Resource Specialist; Royce Vincent, Roads and Trails

Foreman; Frank Garrison, Administrative Officer; Kenneth Logsdon, Ferry

Operator; and Leroy Childers, Ferry Operator.

I also wish to express my appreciation to Kenneth S. Wild, field crew

chief (1987), and Bruce L. Manzano, lab and field crew chief (1987-1989), for

their support and hard work and their friendship. Ken and Bruce were able

to rise above the adversities of working far away from home and for a

supervisor who expected only the best from his crew chiefs. Bruce, especially,

was a constant support, working long hours and giving of his own free time to

pursue archaeology in the Mammoth Cave area. The Project and I benefitted

greatly from Bruce's efforts.

I would like to thank the various crew members for their hard work in

the field and lab during the Project: Tina Bassett (1987), Chris Begley (1987),

Joanna (Jody) Carter (1989), George (Ray) Frye, Jr. (1988), Gerald Furgeson

(1987), Mark D. Groover (1989), Jeff Johnson (1988), Kristin Koehn (1987),

Cindy Livingston (1987), Marie (nee Mathison) Prentice (1987-1988), Ray

Tubby (1987), Doug Welsh (1987-1989), and Elyse White (1987).

By their analytical expertise, certain individuals made the artifact

identifications and interpretations presented here possible, and for that I am

greatly indebted. Bruce L. Manzano supervised the artifact analysis, identified

the bulk of the lithic materials, and performed the faunal analysis. Marie C.

Prentice analyzed the historic ceramics. Douglas R. Welsh and Douglas T.

Potter performed the bulk of the prehistoric ceramic analysis. Chris

Gremillion performed the floral analysis. David Midyette analyzed the human

skeletal elements.

During the course of pursuing Mammoth Cave archeology, I was

fortunate enough to meet and work with a extraordinary cadre of archeologists

who shared their knowledge of Green River archaeology and their friendship.

They are Kenneth Carstens, Berle Clay, Phil DiBlasi, Christine Hensley,

Kenneth Tankersley, Valerie Haskins, and Patty Jo Watson.

I would also like to thank Dr. Lawson Smith of the Army Corps of

Engineers for sharing his expertise and interpreting the geomorphological

history of the Old Mammoth Cave Ferry and Mammoth Cave Ferry #2 sites.

Lawson took the time out of his busy schedule to help an old FAI-270 worker,

and I greatly appreciate it.

The staff and fellow co-workers at the Southeast Archeological Center

provided the administrative support needed to carry this project through. The

assistance of Richard D. Faust, George S. Smith, Roy W. Reaves III, Robert

Wilson, Dennis Finch, Wilma Clark, Judy Hatten, Chris Harrell, Lois Cutler,

and Janice Burke is much appreciated.

During my studies at the University of Florida, I interacted with a

number of individuals who helped me develop as a scholar and as a human

being, among them: Dr. Patricia Essenpreis, Dr. Art Hansen, Dr. Jonathon

Leader, Steve Kryszton, Dr. Paul Magnarella, Dr. William Marquardt, James

McKay, Dr. Jeffery Mitchem, Dr. Michael Moseley, Dr. Theron Nunez, Jr.,

Claudine Payne, Dr. Barbara Purdy, Irv Quitmeyer, Dr. Prudence Rice, Dr.

Brenda Sigler-Eisenberg, Dr. Greg Smith, Dr. Marvin Smith, Dr. David Suggs,

Christa Wilson, Robert Wilson and Dr. Elizabeth Wing. To these individuals,

and any others I may have overlooked here, I offer my warmest regards.

Dr. Jerald T. Milanich, the chair of my committee, has allowed me the

freedom to pursue my personal interests in archaeology, tempering my

ideological Marxist tendencies with his positivist Cultural Materialist

perspectives. For his support and friendship I am sincerely grateful.

My father and my mother have always been supportive of my desire to

be an archeologist, even though I'm sure they think I should have put my

talents to better use, like becoming a dentist. I hope they are half as proud of

me as I am of having them as parents.

My wife Marie has borne the burden of marriage to a "workaholic" who

sometimes needs to be told that there are some things more important than

archaeology. To her I dedicate this work and my love.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................. iii

ABSTRACT ........................................... xii

INTRODUCTION ....................................... 1

The Formalist Position ................................ 5

The Traditional Marxist Position ........................ 8

Reconciling Formalist and Marxist Economic Theory ........ 11

Summary and Observations ........................... 14

CONCEPTS AND TERMS ................................. 17

Economy and Production ........................... 17

Characterizing Households ........................... 19

Household Composition .......................... 20

Relations of Production ............................ 21

Relations of Consumption ....................... 24

Economic Independence ......................... 25

Specialization ................ ............... 26

Obligation and Household Production .............. 32

Summary and Observations ........................... 34

THE PROJECT STUDY AREA ............................ 36

Introduction....................................... 36

Topographic and Geologic Setting ..................... 37

Major Vegetation Zones ............................. 43

Primary Floral Resources ............................ 48

Primary Faunal Resources ........................... 56

Summary Observations ............................. 67


Introduction ....................................... 68

The Pre-Park Years (1800-1941) ................... ... 68

The Early Park Years (1941-1960) ..................... 75

The Cave Research Years (1961-1970) .................. 79

The Survey Years (1970-1990) ........................ 88

The Hominy Hole Survey ........................ 89

The Green River Surface Survey .................. 90

The JCCC Center Project Survey .................. 93

The Trail System Walkover ....................... 97

Cave Investigations ............................ 98

Miscellaneous Small Survey Projects .............. 100

The MCNP Archeological Inventory Project ......... 101

Austin House Site ............................ 103

Old Guides Cemetery and Heritage Trail ........... 103


Maple Spring Ranger Station and Onyx
Meadows Environmental Station ..............

Longs Cave ..............................

Horvath's Investigations ....................

Summary and Discussion .........................

INVENTORY PROJECT ..............................

Research Objectives .............................

Research Design and Field Methods .................

Upland and Bottomland Shovel Test Survey .....

Bluffline Pedestrian Survey ..................

Test Excavation ...........................

Methods of Analysis .............................


Summary of the History of Investigations ............

Current Level of Site Information ..................

Summary of the Prehistoric Culture History of
The Mammoth Cave Area ........................

Introduction ..............................

The Paleoindian Period (9500-8000 B.C.) .......

The Archaic Period (8000-1000 B.C.) ...........

The Woodland Period (1000 B.C.-A.D. 900) ......

Late Woodland/Mississippian Sites ............

The Mississippian Period (A.D. 900-1500) ......























The Protohistoric Period (A.D. 1500-1700) ..........

Unspecified Prehistoric Sites ...........

Rockshelter Sites ....................

Open-air Sites ......................

Summary Observations ....................

SITE SELECTION ............................

Introduction .............................

Linear Programming ......................

Resource Availability .................

Problem Formulation .................

Linear Programming Results ................

Initial Phase of Analysis ..............

Summarizing the Two-season LP Results .

Subsequent Analysis .................

Summarizing the Three-season LP Results

ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA .....................


auction ..................................

MACA-37 Blue Spring Hollow Rockshelter (15Ed52)

MACA-43 Patch Rockshelter (15Ed42) ..........

MACA-65 Jagger Ridge Rockshelter (15Ed69) ....

MACA-89 Salts Cave Interior (15Ht4) ..........























MACA-93 Owl Cave (15Ed43) ................... 306

MACA-137 Dry Creek (15Ed412) ................. 311

MACA-171 Kingbird Rockshelter (15Ed162) ......... 322

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ......................... 335

REFERENCES CITED .................................. 348



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................... 582

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Guy Louis Prentice

April 1994

Chairman: Dr. Jerald T. Milanich
Major Department: Anthropology

This study is an attempt to analyze prehistoric site settlement

patterning from an economic perspective that includes social, technological,

environmental, and ideological variables among the parameters affecting

human site selection processes. The research area, encompassing roughly

21,000 hectares (52,000 acres) of floodplain, bluffline slopes, and uplands

bordering the Green River in south-central Kentucky, has been studied

previously by several archeologists, providing a solid basis for undertaking a

comprehensive prehistoric settlement pattern analysis. The present study

takes advantage of the new technology of computerized geographic information

systems (GIS) to assess the resource potential of several site catchment areas,

then evaluates prehistoric site selection and economic processes in relation to

potential resources and archeologically identified resource use. The results of

these analyses indicate a very consistent prehistoric utilization of the resources

in the research area for 3000+ years, a pattern which reflects seasonal shifts

in resource availability and exploitation over a very large settlement area and

the persistence of economic systems, which include the exploitation of both

wild and domesticated resources.



Archaeology by its very nature is concerned with the study of the spatial

distributions of sites, artifacts, and other features resulting from past human

behavior. It is these spatial distributions that provide "archaeological context,"

the primary basis for interpreting the archaeological record. Indeed much of

the theoretical discussions in archaeology within the last 15 years have dealt

with that area known as "Middle-Range Theory" (e.g., Binford 1977; Schiffer

1976; Butzer 1982), which is concerned with the theoretical basis for

interpreting the spatial relationships found in the archaeological assemblage.

Archaeologists are generally interested in studying two types of spatial

relationships: human-land relationships, and human-human relationships

(Roper 1979; Crumley and Marquardt 1987). The importance of understanding

these spatial relationships in archaeological studies is underscored by the

number of analyses focusing on settlement distributions in terms of site

hierarchies (e.g., Steponaitis 1978; Fowler 1974, 1978), site catchment models

(e.g., Roper 1979; Vita-Finzi and Higgs 1970), optimal foraging theory (e.g.,

Jochim 1976; Winterhalder 1987), and exchange models (e.g., Renfrew 1977;

Earle and Ericson 1977; DeGarmo 1977). All of these studies fall within the

more inclusive domain referred to as settlement pattern analysis.


Although the theoretical perspectives and purposes among these various

studies have differed to greater or lesser degrees, all of them have assumed

some aspect of economic function in the development of these models. Whether

explicitly stated or ambiguously implied, settlement pattern analysis has

always been predicated on the assumption that economic behavior, in part or

in toto, affects the way in which humans distribute themselves across the

landscape (cf. Trigger 1968; Johnson 1977; Clarke 1977; Jochim 1979).

This study examines the settlement patterns exhibited by precolumbian

Native Americans who resided in Mammoth Cave National Park located in

what is now south-central Kentucky. The assumption that economic decision-

making was a principal factor affecting site selection processes by prehistoric

peoples in Mammoth Cave National Park is basic to this study. Succinctly put,

the current study concludes that the precolumbian settlement patterns

exhibited in the study area largely reflect decision-making by individuals who

were concerned with minimizing production efforts while pursuing a particular

mode of subsistence. While it is clear that other economic and non-economic

factors have affected the distribution of sites in the present study area, the

current study will focus primarily on how economic human-land relationships

have been manifest in the precolumbian settlement patterns exhibited at

Mammoth Cave National Park.

In the course of studying human-land relationships exhibited at

Mammoth Cave National Park or any other study area, the analyst must be


concerned with both cultural and natural factors. Human perceptions of the

environment and consequently human behavior are moderated by the cultural

perspectives of the decision-makers (cf. Prentice 1986a; Crumley and

Marquardt 1987). How individuals perceive their environment and decide

which economic possibilities are to be pursued are concerns, therefore, of the

archaeologist, anthropologist, geographer or other analyst interested in human-

land spatial relationships.

Several years ago, I (Prentice 1986a) called for a focus on the individual

as the basis for studying past human behavior and for modeling social change.

In adopting this view, I agreed with three main arguments put forth earlier by

Hodder (1982a, 1982b, 1982c, 1985): that the individual is the basis of social

change because it is at the individual level that decision-making behavior

occurs, that decision-making within societies is variable and constantly being

renegotiated by the individual, and that decision-making occurs within a

structural (cultural) context and is therefore patterned by society. This

position regarding the nature of individual decision-making, coupled with the

Marxist viewpoint that the analysis of the mode of production offers the best

possibility of understanding social structures (Marx 1904, 1976; Bloch 1975;

Godelier 1972, 1973, 1980a, 1980b; Harris 1968, 1979; Kahn 1978; Meillassoux

1972; O'Laughlin 1975; Terray 1972), forms the theoretical basis for my

approach to modeling past economic behavior and, in turn, modeling the

precolumbian site selection processes exhibited in the Green River area.

From an archaeological perspective, studying individual economic

behavior is, at best, an extremely difficult task. This is because the ability to

match specific behaviors with specific individuals in the archaeological record

is very limited. It is the usual anonymity of the individual in archaeology

which makes difficult the direct application of the theoretical tenets to which

I subscribe. This does not, however, prevent the application of these basic

theoretical propositions, particularly when one moves to the next behavioral

scale of archaeological analysis: the individual household.

In non-state societies, members of individual households organize and

perform the majority of the economic tasks necessary for the livelihood of all

the individuals within the household, as well as the support of the political and

religious structures of the greater society. Archaeologists and anthropologists

have often employed terms like "subsistence economy" to categorize what is

perceived to be the primary characteristic of those non-state societies with

economic systems dominated by production and consumption at the household

level. Often this categorization is accompanied by the designation "self-

sufficient" (Hudson 1976:205; Muller 1984; Smith 1978:494; Pauketat

1989:290). Many archaeologists have accepted this as an appropriate

categorization for precolumbian Southeastern societies since the majority of

living and active individuals in non-state societies typically produce and

consume the majority of the basic material requirements of their existence, i.e.

they subsist.


Given the proposition that the bulk of production and consumption in

precolumbian Southeastern societies occurred at the household level and the

premise that the study of past economies is crucial to understanding the

history of cultural evolution, it is incumbent on archaeologists to determine,

as best they can, the various cultural and environmental factors affecting

production and consumption at the household level. This requires fundamental

knowledge of the resource potential of a study area, a basic understanding of

the social and political structure of each study group, a basic understanding

of the variety of site types and of the settlement system as a whole, the ability

to discern different types of "households" in the archaeological record, and a

theoretical basis for modeling decision-making at the household level. The

theoretical basis that has been adopted here conforms to the positions recently

advocated by those seeking to integrate formalist and Marxist economic theory

within a unified paradigm.

The Formalist Position

Within the last fifteen years there has been a rapid growth in the use

of formal economic theory in the development of models pertaining to

prehistoric economic behavior. These recent studies have primarily focused on

elucidating subsistence patterns and on the application of"optimization" theory

couched in such terms as "site catchment analysis," "optimal foraging," "risk

minimizing," and "mini-max" theory (cf. Jochim 1976; Roper 1979; Earle and


Christenson 1980; Reidhead 1981; Styles 1981; Bettinger 1987; Keegan and

Butler 1987; Winterhalder and Smith 1981). The application of these formalist

models has great appeal to many archaeologists due to their emphasis on

spatial patterning, subsistence, and quantifiable variables.

The basic assumptions in formalist economic theory are: (1) that human

economic behavior is rational; (2) that humans strive to maximize return and

minimize effort and risk in economic activities; and, (3) that there are a limited

number of alternatives from which to choose (Herskovits 1952; Burling 1962;

Barlett, ed. 1980; LeClair and Schneider 1968; Robbins 1932; Schneider 1974,

1975). Individuals are the basic units of investigation in formalist theory since

it is at the individual level that decision-making occurs, and individuals are

assumed to act primarily out of self-interest.

The propriety of using formalist models to explain economic behavior has

been criticized on the basis that no known peoples totally maximize productive

capabilities to full potential, and in many cases, other factors have been shown

to influence decision-making behavior in ways counter to the maximization and

self-interest principles (Barlett 1980; Dalton 1969; Godelier 1972; Polanyi 1957,

1968; Ross 1987; Sahlins 1972, 1976; Wilk 1989). The heralds of formalist

economics, themselves, admit that they frequently fail to predict economic

behavior using optimization (maximization) theory (cf. Gould 1986;

Winterhalder 1987; Hawkes 1987). An excellent example of this failure to

predict is found in Bennett's (1969) classic monograph on the "coping


strategies" of different ethnic groups in modern Canada. Here, Bennett found

that some western ranchers and farmers "irrationally" continued to raise cattle

instead of more profitable sheep because cattle raising conferred greater social


The inadequacy of true formalist models to account for this and other

examples of "irrational" economic behavior has led to various attempts by some

economic anthropologists and archaeologists to modify formalist principles to

better accommodate the study of "irrational" economics. These modifications

of formalist theory have normally taken the form of shifting the object of

"maximization" away from profits toward other goals such as satisfaction (e.g.,

Herskovits 1952; Jochim 1976), energy capture (e.g., Winterhalder 1987), and

fitness (Hawkes 1987), and the application of modern decision theory to emend

"rationality" (e.g., Barlett, ed. 1980; Barlett 1989).

The applicability of formalist "rationality" as a universal human trait

was attacked by substantivists (Polanyi 1944, 1968; Polanyi et al. 1957; Dalton

1969, 1975; Sahlins 1972) over two decades ago; it has also been rejected more

recently by Marxists (e.g., Godelier 1972). Both groups view formal rationality

(i.e., computation) as an culture bound concept which is inappropriate to non-

western societies where informal reckoning, not formal calculations, are often

the basis of evaluating the potential gains and losses of an enterprise. The

self-interest motives assumed by formal theorists has also been criticized by

those who point out that altruism and an orientation toward the family, clan,


or lineage and away from the individual exemplifies many societies (cf. Polanyi

1957, 1968; Sahlins 1972; Wilk 1989). Most economic anthropologists today,

even those who have adopted most of the theoretical framework of formalist

economics, have come to the conclusion that rationality, self-interest, and other

aspects of decision-making behavior, are structured to various degrees by

culturally defined goals and value systems (Bennett 1969; Bennett and Kanel

1983; Barlett, ed. 1980; Godelier 1972:99).

The Traditional Marxist Position

Marxist approaches to economic behavior have by and large ignored

individual and household decision-making processes (cf. Long and Richardson

1978:203), and some, in fact, have castigated the idea all together.

it is not possible to start from individuals and the general form
of purposive behaviour in order to analyse the content of the
rationality of economic systems and economic agents [Godelier

Traditionally, Marxists have approached economics and cultural change

at the societal level. The particular theoretical perspectives adopted by those

anthropologists who can be assembled under the label "Marxist" varies, but

most seek explanations of social change in the contradictions between the

social relations of production and the means or forces of production (cf. Cooper

1978; Friedman 1975; Kahn 1978; Long and Richardson 1978; Rey 1975;

Sahlins 1976; Terray 1972; Wenke 1981; Prentice 1986b). And as Wenke

(1981:94) points out, the greatest point of contention that has arisen among

Marxists has been with regard to the importance of the relations of production

in determining the other aspects of society.

In Marx's original formulations, the "relations of production" referred to

the ways in which humans organized the labor and the persons involved in

productive tasks. The "forces of production" consisted of those tangible (i.e.,

physical) aspects involved in the material production and provisioning of

society. These two heuristic concepts were viewed by Marx as the primary

components of the "mode of production" or the economic "structure" of society.

How these heuristic components were believed to be affected by one another

are revealed in the following samples of Marx's writings.

In the social production which men carry on they enter into
definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their
will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage
of development of their material powers of production. The sum
total of these relations of production constitutes the economic
structure of society--the real foundation, on which rise legal and
political superstructures and to which correspond definite forms
of social consciousness. The mode of production in material life
determines the general character of the social, political, and
spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that
determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social
existence determines their consciousness [Marx 1904:11-12; cited
in Harris 1968:229].

Apart from the degree of development, greater or less, in the form
of social production, the productiveness of labour is fettered by
physical conditions. These are all referable to the constitution of
man himself (race, &c.), and to surrounding Nature. The external
physical conditions fall into two great economic classes, (1)
Natural wealth in means of subsistence, i.e., a fruitful soil, waters
teeming with fish, &c., and (2), natural wealth in the instruments
of labour, such as waterfalls, navigable rivers, wood, metal, coal,
&c. [Marx 1967:512].


It is clear in these examples and in other portions of his writings that

Marx viewed the economic structure of a society as the primary determinant

of the superstructure (the political and legal components of the society and

their corresponding ideologies and belief systems). In turn, Marx believed that

the mode of production (i.e., economic system) is determined by the interplay

between the physical and historical circumstances involved in the process of

material production (i.e, level of technology and the distribution and kinds of

natural resources) and the social relations arising from the organization of


Simply put, Marx believed that the way a society is organized socially

and politically is a direct result of the way the social organization of production

and the material means of production interact to fulfill their role of providing

the material needs of the society. Thus, the mode of production, the synthesis

of relations of production and means of production, is viewed by most Marxist

anthropologists as the primary object of economic study (Cooper 1978;

Friedman 1975; Godelier 1972, 1973, 1975, 1980a, 1980b; Kahn 1978; Long and

Richardson 1978; Marx 1967; Rey 1975; Terray 1972, 1975).

Some Marxists, however, are now arguing that the failure in traditional

Marxist theory to consider the individual and individual households as the

primary units of decision-making and economic behavior has been a major

stumbling block within the paradigm. Part of this failure stems from Marx's

conception of production as a purely social process. As O'Laughlin (1975:363)


points out, Marx never considered the individual as an independent unit of

production. For Marx, all production was social, beyond individual control --

"independent of their will", as Marx (1904:11) put it. In essence, this was the

same position that was adopted in regard to non-capitalist societies by the

substantivists, that individual decision-making was institutionally "embedded"

and primarily determined by society, not the individual (Polanyi et al. 1957).

But, having already argued that any theory of cultural change must be

grounded at the level of individual behavior and individual decision-making,

it is necessary to somehow reconcile the apparent disparities between a

Marxist perspective that typically portrays individuals as virtually incapable

of independent behavior and the proposed epistemology of humans as

individual decision-makers.

Reconciling Formalist and Marxist Economic Theory

In a recent article, Baber (1987) has argued that it is time to put away

the old polemics of formalist economic theory versus Marxist economic

anthropology. Much like Cancian (1966) dispelled the argument that

substantive and formalist economics were necessarily exclusive and

antithetical, Baber has argued that there is no necessary contradiction between

formalist and Marxist approaches to the anthropological study of economic

behavior. Baber also argues cogently that a fusion of formalist economic

theory and Marxist theory offers the best avenue for developing a new


paradigm of socio-economic theory. This new paradigm would combine the

formalist position that humans are rational decision-makers and maximizers

with the Marxist (and substantivist) position that decision-making can be best

understood when placed within the contexts of the social relations of

production and the means of production. Such a paradigm, Baber argues,

would overcome the inability of formal economic methods to explain, for

example, the failure of individuals to maximize profit because of social values

emphasizing maximization of prestige.

In a companion article to Baber's, Prattis (1987) has also argued for a

fusion of formalist and Marxist economic theory. To avoid the epistemological

inadequacies exhibited by classic formalist maximizing theory, however, Prattis

advocates approaching decision-making and maximizing behavior in terms of

"scheduling" (Flannery 1968) and "situational logic." This use of terms is

meant to avoid the ethnocentrism associated with formalist decision-making

theory, and to include the social "embeddedness" argued for in substantivist

and Marxist theory. Prattis believes that modeling decision-making in terms

of situational logic is preferable because it predicates that the decision-maker

will arrive at the "best" decision based on socially determined values, past

experience, and the particular situation involved. Prattis also agrees with

Cook (1973) and Hart (1982), that the manner in which material goods are

produced (i.e., the mode of production) should be a major focus of analysis.

More recently, various authors (e.g., Wilk 1989; Cheal 1989; Weismantel

1989) in the book entitled The Household Economy (Wilk, ed. 1989) have

argued the utility of viewing decision-making behavior as occurring at different

scales within nested levels of social context (e.g., individual, family, sodality,

lineage, community). In many respects, this is complimentary to Prattis's

arguments for approaching decision-making behavior in terms of situational

logic since the decisions arrived at (self-interest, altruistic, autocratic,

democratic, etc.) are directly affected by the social situation in which they

occur (between spouses, among peers, unions, legislatures, etc.). This same

approach has obvious utility in developing archaeological models of prehistoric

behavior at different scales of analysis.

Because economic decision-making and by extension archaeological sites

reflect human behavior and decision-making at various scales of society

(individual, family, band, hunting party, etc.), situational logic is, theoretically,

directly applicable to the study of past economies. Situational logic, as it is

conceptualized by Prattis (1989), also correlates very well with the basic

premise I offered at the beginning of this treatise, that ultimately it is at the

individual level that decision-making occurs, that decision-making is variable

and constantly being renegotiated by the individual, and that decision-making

occurs within a social context and is therefore patterned by society.

But economic behavior is not purely cultural. Economic decision-making

and behavior is also materially and corporeally based, and therefore linked to


environment (cf. Vayda 1969; Vayda, ed. 1969; Rappaport 1968). Although

some Marxist anthropologists (e.g., Godelier 1980:270) and others (cf. Ellen

1982:21-51) would generally view these as simply "constraints" or "limiting

factors," the numerous positions offered by Marxists and non-Marxists alike

(e.g., Chang 1975; Flannery 1968; Moran 1979; Harris 1979; Ellen 1982; Butzer

1982; Bennett 1976; Bennett and Kanel 1983; Vayda and McCay 1975; Vayda

and Rappaport 1968; Winterhalder 1977, 1980) have demonstrated the

importance of including environment and ecological interactions as important

factors in the economic decision-making process. It is, after all, from the

environment that humans obtain their material provisions and it is upon the

landscape that humans locate their homes and plan their activities. And as

we noted earlier, even Marx, himself, recognized that the natural distribution

of resources had a direct bearing on the mode of production.

Summary and Observations

As one may have gathered from the discussion presented above, I and

many others and Marxists in particular believe that the study of the mode of

production is fundamental to economic analysis which, in turn, is essential to

the study of social process and cultural evolution. But, as one may have

gathered in the previous discussion, economic analysis must focus not only on

the mode of production, the process whereby people organize production within

the social and natural environment in which they live, but also on how this is


integrated with other aspects of social behavior. And although economic

studies may appropriately be pursued at the household, the lineage, the region,

the society, or any other scale of analysis, it must ultimately be theoretically

grounded at the level of the individual because it is at the individual level that

behavior and decision-making actually occur.

Having already pointed out that archaeological methodology usually

prevents approaching individual behavior directly, the present study attempts

to model past individual economic behavior and site selection indirectly by

focusing on the household as the basic unit of analysis. The method of analysis

will consist of using the formalist theory of subsistence maximization and

effort minimization as a heuristic model to see where it fails to explain

expected production efforts. These models will be based on estimated

production yields for various resources falling within a certain radius of each

site (i.e., site catchment analysis), the current models categorizing the different

means of production (e.g., hunting-gathering, gardening, swidden horticulture)

for each major time period (Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian), and presumed

relations of production and consumption at the household level during each of

these periods. Where these models fail to predict expected subsistence

behavior and site selection, other explanations (e.g., taste preferences, prestige

maximization, religious practices) will be sought to explain these apparent

contradictions to the model.


There is, of course, an orderly process by which I will present and

discuss the various pieces of information and deliberation which have led to

the final observations and conclusions presented here. As is true in any

scientific endeavor, the first step toward any analysis is the definition and

explication of those terms used in the process.


Economy and Production

Several definitions have been offered for the term economy (Burling

1962), each definition suiting a particular theoretical stance and purpose. The

definition offered here has been articulated previously in one of my earlier

articles. In that article I defined economy (and its adjectival form "economic")

as the production, distribution, and consumption of material goods and the

social contexts within which such activities occur" (Prentice 1987:193). This

definition follows Cook's (1973) and Hart's (1982) arguments that economic

theory must be grounded in the study of the social organization of the produc-

tion of the material means of human existence, with production defined as the

appropriation and transformation of natural resources to create a consumable

product or commodity. Concordant with this stance is the position that

economic decision-making occurs within a culturally structured context and is

therefore patterned by society. This definition is not in conflict with the

position that the means by which individuals make decisions regarding

production (and thereby, distribution and consumption) are inevitably

influenced by the availability of natural resources (cf. Ellen 1982).


I define production as the appropriation and transformation of natural

resources to create a consumable product or commodity. I and many others

(e.g., Godelier 1972; Cook 1973; Bloch 1975; Harris 1979; Hart 1982) believe

that the study of the ways in which production is facilitated within a society

is the fundamental key to economic analysis which, in turn, is essential to the

study of social process and cultural change.

Economy is not the same as subsistence. Subsistence is defined as the

appropriation and utilization of resources within an individual household in

order to provide the food and shelter necessary to maintain a living.

Subsistence, according to this definition, is a "pooling" process (Sahlins 1972)

in which the material necessities of the household are satisfied. Household

subsistence is, therefore, not simply a matter of making production decisions

on an individual basis. Subsistence production is a social process with the

individuals of a household cooperating (through volition and/or duress) in the

production and consumption of subsistence items.

Within the last few years, archaeologists (Prentice 1981, 1983, 1985,

1987; Flannery and Winter 1976; Keegan and Butler 1987; Pauketat 1989) and

anthropologists (Ellen 1982; Ross 1987; Tourtellot 1983; Clammer 1987; Long

and Richardson 1978; Wilk, ed. 1989) alike have shown an increased emphasis

on examining household economics and individual decision-making. A major

emphasis of these and related studies (Arzigian 1987; Cohen 1987; Keegan and

Butler 1987; Muller 1987; Winters 1974; Keene 1979; Reidhead 1981; Nassaney


1987; King 1987; Keegan 1987; Winterhalder 1987) has been the examination

of the various factors affecting food production, i.e., subsistence production, and

correlating these with various levels of political and social complexity (e.g.,

McBride and Dewar 1987; Cowan 1985; Keegan and Butler 1987; Muller 1987).

Given the obviously significant economic role of households in the evolution of

human societies, an important question then becomes, "How does one

characterize different types of households for archaeological study?" and "How

does one approach production and consumption at the household level?"

Characterizing Households

A household is a residential group that shares the daily burden of

providing subsistence for everyone within the group. The most common

residential groupings have been classified anthropologically (and

archaeologically) into two basic types based on the number of marriage

partners and the number of generations living within the household, these

being referred to as "nuclear families" ("nuclear households") and "extended

families" ("complex households") (Nimkoff and Middleton 1968; Keesing and

Keesing 1971:199-202; Kottak 1982:122-123); but households are not limited

to these two forms of family organization. A group of celibate religious

specialists who pool their productive resources to provide the food and shelter

necessary to maintain a daily existence constitute a household just as much as

an unmarried, self-supporting, single mother and her children does.


Archaeologically, the identification of households in non-state societies has

generally been based on the presence of sets of residential structures or

occupational areas exhibiting evidence of the pursuit of most subsistence

activities practiced by the majority of the individuals in the society (gardening,

gathering, hunting, fishing, cooking, making clothing, making pottery, etc.)

(Carr 1984; Flannery 1976; Muller 1984; Tourtellot 1983; Trigger 1968).

I have defined household as a residential group that shares the daily

burden of providing food and shelter for everyone within the group, and

indicated that the most common residential groupings identified in

archaeological studies have been classified into two major types: nuclear

households and complex (i.e., extended) households. These two major

classificatory types are categories based on "composition," one of four variables

by which households can be classified. The remaining three variables are

"relations of production," "relations of consumption," and "economic


Household Composition

Household composition refers to the age and sex structure of the

household. Significant differences in age and sex structure occur between

various households as a direct result of having greater or lesser numbers of

residents within the household. Beyond these obvious differences, there are

also changes in composition that occur in households as individuals age, leave

natal households, join other households, procreate, and so forth. As residential


compositions change, economic activities change as well, reflecting the different

social obligations and individual aspirations precipitated by seeking a sexual

partner, child rearing, supporting an invalid, and so on (Chayanov 1966).

Due to its dynamic nature, individual household composition is very

difficult to approach archaeologically. The estimated sizes and compositions

(nuclear or extended) of various "households" identified from the archaeological

record have been typically based on site, structure, and artifactual data (e.g.,

Brose 1970; Casselberry 1974; Hassan 1981; Kramer 1979; Naroll 1962) and

the use of direct historical analogy (e.g., Deetz 1965; Longacre 1968; Willey

1977) and general comparative analogy -- the correlation of familial/social

organization (band, tribe, etc.) with various forms of economic production

(hunter-gatherer, swidden-agriculturalist, etc.) (e.g., Bettinger 1980, 1987;

Braun and Plog 1982; cf. Gould and Watson 1982). But currently, without

direct historical antecedents, it is often difficult to go beyond the simple

characterizations of nuclear versus complex household. At present, generally

it is necessary to assume "average" household compositions for each of these

generalized household types. This is the case with the current study.

Relations of Production

Relations of production refers to the manner in which tasks are assigned

and performed within the household. Sexual division of labor is one aspect of

relations of production. By analogy and use of the direct historical approach,

it is reasonable to assume that certain subsistence activities pursued by the

ancient inhabitants of a particular research area were often assigned and

performed according to sex. For example, hunting animals, fishing, house

building, and warfare are typically viewed as male activities in the Eastern

Woodland area, while gathering plant foods, weaving, dressing hides, and

making clay pots are typically seen as female activities (Swanton 1946:709-718;

Herskovits 1952:140; Conkey and Spector 1984; Watson and Kennedy 1988),

although, of course, none of these tasks were exclusively performed by males

or females. Since economic activities are determined to some degree by social

norms prescribing certain tasks for each of the sexes, the composition of the

household will directly affect the range and proportions by which such

activities are pursued at the household level and the artifact assemblage

resulting from those activities. Assuming that sexual division of labor was

characteristic ofprecolumbian Eastern Woodland residential groups in general,

the identification of "male" and "female" activities in the archaeological record

may be inferred at the household level by the occurrence of those artifact types

used in the performance of tasks typically assigned according to gender.

Again, this approach has been used in the present study.

With normal changes in household age structures there are also

simultaneous changes in the relations of production within households. At

certain stages in the life cycle, individuals are expected to perform different

economic tasks, partly in conjunction with achieved status but also partly in

conjunction with physical growth. The ethnographic literature is replete with

examples where the children and the elderly perform less demanding tasks

than the average adult women and men (cf. Swanton 1946:715-718). Applying

this general principle to the archaeological record, one could postulate, for

example, that the collecting of shellfish found at Archaic shell mound sites was

probably a task most often performed by young boys and girls in the

accompaniment of adult women (cf. Meehan 1982) and at the attainment of

adulthood, males probably participated in the collecting of mussels to a much

lesser degree than women normally did. Such adjustments in the performance

of other household tasks as a result of changing age structures no doubt

occurred prehistorically in the Eastern Woodlands, judging from the early

ethnohistoric accounts.

Changes in household composition also result in changes in household

production activities due to changes in attitudes regarding individual

aspirations and perceived needs. This aspect of household production was

central to Chayanov's (1966) classic analysis of peasant economics in early 20th

century Russia. Popularized as "Chayanov's rule" (Sahlins 1972:87), the basic

premise -- minimization of effort occurs once basic household needs are

satisfied -- was adopted as a primary principle of Sahlins' (1972) domestic

mode of production. An important aspect of this principle is the fact that

household needs (i.e., individual needs) and relations of consumption change

as the family structure changes through time. For example, a young girl

requires less food than an adult woman, so less work is required to provide the


girl with adequate nutrition. Likewise, a young man attempting to accumulate

bride wealth may work longer hours and require different material resources

than a married man. In a similar vein, the tasks performed in a household

consisting of a middle aged married couple with two girls of ages 7 and 10 and

two boys of ages 13 and 16 will vary considerably from a household consisting

of a newly married couple who have moved into the home of the bride's parents

where there are no other children.

Relations of Consumption

Relations of consumption refers to the allocation of available resources

within the household. In a way, it is the necessary antithesis to the "pooling"

of resources that characterizes all households (Sahlins 1972:94). All of the

members in a household consume resources differentially in response to

variable nutritional, corporeal, social, and spiritual needs. Archaeologically,

it is possible to identify differential consumption of some food sources through

various analyses of skeletal populations (Ambrose 1987; Bender et al. 1981;

Buikstra 1977; Buikstra et al. 1987; Gilbert 1977; Schoeninger and Peebles

1981), but the detection of differential consumption of other non-edible

resources within the household are also significantly relevant to the study of

household economics. It was, after all, the apparent differential consumption

of exotic resources (marine shell and finely made ceramics) at the American

Bottom Mississippian Lab Woofie farmstead (Prentice and Mehrer 1981;

Prentice 1981) that first drew me to the investigation of household economics,


and there are many examples where the study of the household consumption

of such materials offers the potential to contribute greatly to our knowledge of

social obligations, exchange, and household economic independence.

Economic Independence

One of the more significant economic developments that has

accompanied the rise of complex societies has been an increase in extra-

household economic integration, and the concomitant forfeiture of household

economic independence. In other words, the decisions that household members

have been able to make concerning production and consumption choices has

been superseded more and more by social and political factors outside the

control of the individual household members. For a few individuals this has

meant significant control over the production and labor of others, a

development which is sometime referred to as "exploitation" (e.g., Miller and

Tilley 1984; Terray 1975:88; Harris 1979:237). The increased economic

integration of households has also been accompanied by increased

specialization in services and the production of commodities, more complex

exchange systems, and increased levels of production.

The trend towards greater integration of household economies and the

concomitant loss of freedom in choosing economic alternatives has been a

nearly worldwide development. From an analytical standpoint, this trend can

be approached from at least two different perspectives: specialization and



Specialization is a topic which has received much attention in the

archaeological literature (Peebles and Kus 1977; Peacock 1981, 1982; Prentice

1983, 1985, 1987; Muller 1984, 1986; Yerkes 1983, 1986; Rice 1981; Brumfiel

and Earle, ed. 1987; Leader 1988) because it has been shown to be an integral

aspect in the rise of social complexity (Polanyi et al. 1957; Service 1962;

Sahlins 1963; Steward 1972; Friedman 1975). A complete discussion of this

topic is well beyond the purposes of this inquiry, but it is important to raise

certain points since certain aspects of "producer specialization" and "site

specialization" (limited activity sites) are addressed later on in the dissertation.

Specialization, as I define it, refers to the routine performance of a

service for non-household members for which one is materially compensated

or the production of a commodity for consumption by others outside one's own

household. The explicit assertion that specialization is an economic activity

specifically oriented toward extra-household consumption has been a

significant omission in previous studies dealing with economic specialization

(e.g., Muller 1984, 1986; Brumfiel and Earle 1987). It is this extra-household

distinction, with the qualifier "routine" which truly distinguishes specialist

production and specialist services from basic household subsistence production

and social interaction. Attempts to identify specialization and household

economics in general should thus be directed toward detecting and measuring

those ways in which extra-household oriented production (i.e., commodity

production) and economic specialization can vary: intensity, product diversity,

regularity, and scale.

Intensity of specialization, as it is used here, refers to the amount of

time spent daily in the performance of an economic service or the production

of a commodity. It is in respect to intensity of specialization that the terms

"part-time" and "full-time" have true applicability (cf. Muller 1984). The

amount of time spent in a particular task multiplied by "labor effort" (leisurely

work verses hard work) gives us the "labor magnitude" or the total amount of

labor (energy) expended. All else being equal, it is generally assumed that

increases in labor magnitude (resulting from increased labor effort or working

longer hours or both) directly results in the production of larger quantities of

commodities or more services. The "volume of product per individual

specialist" noted by Brumfiel and Earle (1987:5) is thus the result of the

combination of several factors which includes: level of technology (tools used,

materials used, energy sources, etc.), the intensity of specialization, labor

effort, and individual skill. Unless there is evidence that changes have

occurred in the level of technology or the organization of labor, increases in

production (or services) are thus assumed to be indirect measures of increased

labor magnitude which in turn is the product of increased labor effort and/or

labor time, i.e., intensification of specialization.

Labor intensification is a pattern that has long been associated with the

rise of social complexity (Boserup 1965; Carneiro 1967, 1970; Cohen 1977;


Harris 1971; Sahlins 1972; White 1959). The reason for this rise in

intensification is normally attributed to the need to provide for greater

numbers of non-self-supporting specialists within the society and to support

larger population numbers using essentially the same resource base. Detection

of labor intensification in the archaeological literature has generally been

concerned with production sites, particularly "workshops," where specialized

tools and abnormally high amounts of waste materials resulting from the

production of material goods are seen as direct evidence of labor intensification

and thereby specialization (Mason and Perino 1961; Peebles and Kus 1977;

Porter 1973; Prentice 1983, 1985; Yerkes 1983; Muller 1984). Less direct and

more often subsumed within the study of status differentiation, but indicative

of intensification of specialization nonetheless, are those examples where

analyses of past mortuary practices permit the recognition of individual

specialists. Individuals buried with specialized tool kits (e.g., Bushnell

1914:649-651) and other items denotative of"status" (cf. Brown 1971) are often

indicative of the formal recognition of specialists in past societies, including

both service specialists (e.g., shamans and priests) and production specialists

(e.g., lithic specialists). One can infer from those instances where the identity

of the interred individual is expressed by the trappings of office or the tools of

a craft, that the individual devoted enough of their labor to the performance

of a limited range of tasks or services to be recognized as a specialist by his or

her own community members.


Product diversity refers to the degree to which a wide or narrow range

of services are offered or commodities are produced. This aspect of choosing

economic alternatives is related to what Cleland (1976) was referring in his

"focal"-"diffuse" dichotomy and, likewise, what Winters (1974) was referring to

in his discussion of broad-spectrum versus narrow-spectrum economies. The

advantages one gains by focusing on the production of a limited number of

resources or providing a single service in terms of increased skill and

efficiency, increased productivity, etc., has been thoroughly discussed in a

plethora of books and articles (e.g., Herskovits 1952; White 1959; Harris 1971;

Winters 1974; Renfrew 1975:10; Leader 1988) and needs little further

amplification here. Performing a limited range of production tasks or services

allows the development of skills and abilities which the occasional producer

cannot. When producers specialize in the production of a few commodities or

services, specialized tools may also be developed which further increase

efficiency and productivity.

Regularity of specialization refers to the frequency with which

specialization is practiced among the various households comprising the

society. There is a direct correlation between regularity of specialization and

social complexity. Specialists, even part-time ones, are more frequent in tribal

level societies than they are in band level societies, and appear in increasing

frequencies in chiefdom and state level societies (Harris 1971; Herskovits 1952;

Kottak 1982; Prentice 1983).


Production scale refers to the degree to which individuals from different

households work together in the performance of specific economic tasks. The

lowest possible production scale is the single individual producing one

commodity, a situation that is common in simple handicraft production. In

modern capitalist economies the level of production scale which can occur may

be extreme; in some cases individuals from thousands of households work

together in a single factory to produce a single part of a commodity assembled

at another factory. Less extreme examples of scale involving individuals from

multiple households can likewise be found in ethnohistoric sources describing

the economic customs of the aboriginal populations of the eastern United

States. These include the preparation and planting of agricultural fields and

the communal hunting of deer (Swanton 1946:317-321). Bartram's (1980:400-

401) discussion of the organization of planting and harvesting among the

Southeastern Indians is illustrative of the first form of economic integration:

This is their common plantation, and the whole town plant
in one vast field together; but yet the part or share of every
individual family or habitation, is separated from the next
adjoining, by a narrow strip, or verge of grass, or any other
natural or artificial boundary.
In the spring, the ground being already prepared on one
and the same day, early in the morning, the whole town is
summoned, by the sound of a conch shell, from the mouth of the
overseer, to meet at the public square, whither the people repair
with their hoes and axes; and from thence proceed to their
plantation, where they begin to plant, not every one in his own
little district, assigned and laid out, but the whole community
united begins on one certain part of the field, where they plant on
until finished; and when their rising crops are ready for dressing
and cleansing they proceed after the same order, and so on day
after day, until the crop is laid by for ripening. After the feast of

the busk is over, and all the grain is ripe, the whole town again
assemble, and every man carries off the fruits of his labour, from
the part first allotted to him, which he deposits in his own
granary; which is individually his own [Bartram 1980:400-401].

In the case of the agricultural example presented above, the times of planting

and harvesting were not the prerogatives of individual families, but were at

the discretion of a village leader (Bartram's "overseer"), presumably in

consultation with other village leaders. Apparently, communal deer hunting

expeditions in the Southeast were often similarly organized, with the decision

of where and when to hunt usually left to an elder or leader (Swanton

1946:311, 319). Obviously, these scales of production are less intensive, less

frequent, and not as tightly organized in comparison to the modern factory

example, but they demonstrate the fact that scales of production larger than

the individual household were present in these non-state societies and

presumably were economic patterns that were present prehistorically in the

eastern U.S. They also illustrate how the general rise in social complexity has

been accompanied by an increase in production scale, in some cases virtually

eliminating the ability of the average worker in complex, state-level societies,

to obtain a living without working with non-household members and without

expending substantial amounts of time in production efforts organized and

controlled by individuals outside the household unit.

The factors affecting the economic decisions of individuals may be the

result of a number of conditions including availability of raw materials, social

circumscription, education and training, technology, lineage, religious beliefs,


ambition, etc., but in nearly all cases these conditions are socially expressed

and regulated in terms of the economic rights which the individual enjoys and

the obligations one must meet if he or she is to function as an accepted

member of the society. Production of goods for extra-household consumption

may therefore be the result of incentives other than simple economic gain.

They may be the result of the need to meet social and economic obligations.

Obligation and Household Production

As an accepted member of any society, an individual is guaranteed

certain rights of access to those lands and/or subsistence items necessary to

sustain a living. In.return, the individual is encumbered with certain

obligations which he or she must fulfill if they are to continue to enjoy these

rights. Economic obligation refers to those social circumstances in which

certain material payments are required to meet the socially prescribed

obligations of bride wealth, legal fines, tribute, taxes, etc.

With increases in social complexity there has been a general increase in

obligations that can only be satisfied through economic activity. We, as

members of capitalist societies, are well aware of the economic consequences

of having to pay the taxes necessary to support the political and military

systems of modern states. Prior to the worldwide adoption of general purpose

currency as an acceptable medium of exchange and payment of social debt, the

materials used in meeting obligations were more often the direct result of

individual productive efforts (Dalton 1967; Polanyi 1968; Prentice 1987; Smith

1983; Speck 1919). As students of anthropology, we are familiar with the

numerous examples of dowry and bride wealth where prospective brides and

grooms must produce the goods that will be used to satisfy the social

obligations involved in obtaining a mate, and we are all certainly well aware

of the obligation of paying tribute to leaders of chiefdoms and states with the

fruit of one's own fields. Perhaps less direct, but nonetheless, similar in result

is the payment of obligations purely through the contribution of labor such as

the communal planting and harvesting of the chiefs fields among the

Trobriand Islanders (Malinowski 1984) or the construction of public buildings

as part of the corporate labor mita system found among the Indians of Peru

(Moseley 1975).

Although fulfillment of social obligations may involve either the

relinquishing of material goods or of services to members of the society outside

the household, the basic principles governing social obligations are ideally the

same: peers are expected to reciprocate equally among themselves;

subordinates are expected to support and obey their superiors; superiors are

to protect and guide their subjects. The separation between the ideal and the

real are, of course, another matter (and a topic best covered elsewhere), but the

point to be made here is that social obligations often require economic activity

oriented toward producing goods and/or providing labor for individuals outside

one's own household, most often for a community leader and his or her retinue.


Thus, it is the factor of obligation which really distinguishes Brumfiel

and Earle's (1987) category of "attached specialist" from "independent

specialist" because the attached specialist is socially obligated to produce for

a particular person while the independent specialist is not so directly obligated.

The activities and the material consequences of meeting social obligations can

be virtually the same as those precipitated by independent production of

commodities for trade, and the parameters for evaluating both forms of extra-

household oriented economic activity (intensity, product diversity, regularity,

and scale) equally apply.

Summary and Observations

The brief discussions and examples presented in this chapter have

illustrated some of the complexities and difficulties involved in the

archaeological study of household economics. Nonetheless, the detailed

analyses of household economics is essential if more refined models of social

change are to be formulated in the future. It is essential because both

production and consumption at the household level forms the keystone of

economic activity in all non-state societies.

Basic to the analysis of household economics in non-state societies is the

study of patterns of subsistence production. Although the study of subsistence

production alone does not provide a complete picture of past economic behavior,

it does provide the basis for evaluating relationships between this important

aspect of production within the society with other patterns of production,

transference, consumption, residence, etc. In the present study, the

relationship between settlement patterns and subsistence production will be

the focus of attention. In order to evaluate this relationship, it is first

necessary to describe the physical setting of the study area, the history of

archaeological investigations that have led up to the current study, and the

archaeological record as we now know it.



Mammoth Cave National Park was formally established in July, 1941,

encompassing an area of roughly 19,750 ha (48,800 acres) including portions

of Edmonson, Hart, and Barren counties in south-central Kentucky. Due to

the intervention of World War II, the Park was not formally dedicated until

September, 1946. The total acreage of the Park is presently 20,567.25 ha

(50,821.66 acres). Principally established as a natural recreation area, the

Park contains within its boundaries hundreds of prehistoric and historic sites,

many of which have regional if not national significance.

The following section presents a summary of the environmental setting

of the Park, including topography, major vegetation zones, wildlife, and

generalized description of the resource potential of the natural biotic

communities that existed in the Park prehistorically. This synopsis is based

on data gathered during the Mammoth Cave National Park Archeological

Inventory Project (Prentice 1988, 1989b, 1990a) and on detailed studies

provided by Carstens (1980), Ellsworth (1934), Faller (1975) Latham (1969),

Palmer (1981), Reidhead (1981), Wagner (1978), and Watson and Carstens (1982).

Topographic and Geologic Setting

Mammoth Cave National Park (MCNP) is located in south-central

Kentucky. The southern portion of the Park (south of the Green River) lies

within the Central Kentucky Karst portion of the Pennyroyal Plateau (also

known as the Mississippi Plateau), while the northern portion lies within the

Chester Upland of the Western Coal Field (Palmer 1981; Figure 1). The

Chester Upland is formed principally of Mississippian and Pennsylvanian age

sandstones and limestones while the Plateau is composed mainly of

Mississippian age limestones.

The limestone beds that outcrop in the Park are Mississippian in age

and consist of three major formations in the following ascending order: St.

Louis, Ste. Genevieve, and Girkin. On the upland ridges north and south of

the Green River, these limestone beds are capped by the Big Clifty Formation,

a sandstone layer roughly 15 m (50 ft) thick (Palmer 1981:48). It is the Big

Clifty sandstone layer that produces the majority ofrockshelters that occur in

the Park.

In the Chester Upland area north of the Green River, the Big Clifty

Formation is overlain by the Haney Formation (limestone), the Hardinsburg

Formation (sandstone), the Glen Dean Formation (limestone), the Leitchfield

Formation (shale), and the Caseyville Formation (conglomerate sandstone).







o *4


* '"



o a


The Caseyville Formation is another sandstone layer within the Park in which

rockshelters may occur.

Watson and Carstens (1982) have identified three different types of

terrain within the Park: (1) the Hilly Country north of the Green River; (2) the

Mammoth Cave Plateau south of the Green River, which includes the majority

of karstic features in the Park; and, (3) the Green River valley (and its

tributaries) that divides the Park into its northern and southern portions.

These terrain types reflect the underlying geological structures described


In this study the topography of the Park has been divided into four

different categories: (1) the upland ridges; (2) the upland valleys; (3) the

floodplains; and, (4) the bluffline areas (Figure 2). This division is based on

differences in elevation, ground slope, soil types, and vegetative cover. The

upland ridges cover 9182.92 ha, making this zone the largest topographic

section (44.65%) of the Park's total area. In contrast, the upland valleys are

relatively small comprising only 6.56% (1348.84 ha) of the Park. The

floodplains and the bluffs make up 6.66% (1370.71 ha) and 42.13% (8664.78 ha)

of the Park area, respectively. Within the floodplain zone lie the Green and

Nolin rivers which presently occupy 260.28 ha.

North of the Green River, the uplands can be characterized as wide

ridges into which the tributaries of the Green River have made deep incisions

z <-


to form the bluffline areas. South of the Green River, the uplands can be

characterized as wide ridges separated by deep valleys resulting from the

dissolution and breakdown of the underlying limestone formations. Surface

water in this portion of the Park is typically lacking as rainwater runoff is

quickly channeled into the limestone caves beneath the surface. The difference

in surface water availability between the Mississippi Plateau and Western

Coal Field is very pronounced with a near absence of streams south of the

Green River and a dendritic river system north of the Green River (Figure 3).

The bluffline areas of the Park, with their steep slopes and overhanging

cliffs, contain a variety of rockshelters and caves for which the Park is well

known, particularly Mammoth Cave. The ruggedness of the blufflines present

difficulties for those who would traverse the area on foot. In compensation for

this, however, the large expanses of exposed sandstone and limestone

formations provide a variety of useful and easily accessible mineral resources.

From the base of the blufflines to the banks of the Green River and its

tributaries lies the floodplain area. The Green River is deeply entrenched in

the floodplain with steep river banks exceeding 3 m in height in many areas.

In comparison with other midwestern and southeastern riverine floodplains,

the Green River floodplain, in this portion of the state, is quite narrow with a

maximum width of only 400 m within the Park.





i cs'

I ~ ~------

Major Vegetation Zones

The present major vegetative communities within the Park correspond

closely with the four major topographic zones discussed previously; Oak-

Hickory forests characterize the upland ridges; Cedar-Pine mixed with

grasslands characterize the upland valleys; Maple-Beech forests occur in the

bluff areas; and Sycamore-Box Elder communities typify the floodplains.

Within the four major vegetative zones smaller microbiomes may occur where

the vegetative resources vary according to local soil types, water drainage, and

temperature differences due to solar exposure (Ellsworth 1934; Faller 1975;

Wagner 1978). The most noticeable of these microbiomes are the remnant

eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr) groves that occur in the bluffline

areas of the Chester Upland, primarily on north facing slopes.

Soils in the upland ridge areas are typically deep, sandy, acidic, easily

eroded, and generally limited in agricultural potential (Latham 1969; Carstens

1980:51-52). The Oak-Hickory forests associated with this topographic zone

are dominated by black oak (Quercus velutina Lam.), white oak (Quercus alba

L.), chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii Engelm.), pignut hickory (Carya

glabra (Mill.) Sweet), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata (Mill.) K. Koch), northern

red oak (Quercus rubra L.), and yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.)

(Ellsworth 1934; Faller 1975). Other plant species associated with this zone

include scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea Muenchc.), post oak (Quercus stellata

Wangenh.), southern red oak (Quercus falcata Michx.), black tupelo (Nyssa

sylvatica Marsh.), black walnut (Juglans nigra L.), dogwood (Cornus florida

L.), sassafras (Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees), sourwood (Oxydendrum

arboreum), Carolina buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana Walt.), mountain laurel

(Kalmia latifolia L.), hazelnut (Corylus americana Walt.), farkelberry

(Vaccinium arboreum), serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea (Michx. f.) Fern),

black haw (Viburnum prunifolium), and blueberry (Vaccinium sp.). Several

species of edible mushrooms including morels (Morchella esculenta) and

puffballs (Lycoperdaceae) are also abundant within this zone. Prehistorically,

American chestnut (Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.) would have been

present in significant numbers.

Soils in the bluffline areas are more variable, primarily as a result of

localized surficial geology and ground slope, but can be generally characterized

as shallow, rocky, and unsuitable for agriculture. The Maple-Beech forests

associated with the bluffline areas are predominated by American beech (Fagus

grandifolia Ehrhart.) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum Michx.) (Ellsworth

1934; Faller 1975). Secondary tree species include white oak, yellow poplar,

northern red oak, chestnut oak (Quercus prinus L.), slippery elm (Ulmus

rubra), shagbark hickory, bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis (Wangenh) K.

Koch), pignut hickory, mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa (Poir.) Nutt.),

white ash (Fraxinus americana L.), mountain laurel, witch-hazel (Hamamelis

virginiana L.), bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla Michx.), umbrella

magnolia (Magnolia tripetala L.), pawpaw (Asimina triloba L. Dunal.) and


persimmon (Diospyros virginiana L). Other plant species associated with this

zone are spice bush (Kalmia latifolia), viburnums (Vibernum sp.), and wild

hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). Morels and puffballs are also present

within this zone.

Soils in the floodplain areas are Quaternary in age and can be

characterized as well drained to somewhat poorly drained alluvium, slightly

acid to neutral, and suitable for agriculture (Latham 1969; Carstens 1980:51).

The Sycamore-Box Elder forests associated with the floodplain areas are

predominated by sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L.), box elder (Acer negundo

L.), river birch (Betula nigra L.), and black willow (Salix nigra Marsh.)

(Ellsworth 1934; Faller 1975). Secondary tree species include slippery elm,

winged elm (Ulmus alata Michx.), american hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana

Walt.), yellow poplar, hackberry (Celtis occidentalis L.), red maple (Acer

rubrum L.), black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.), wild plum (Prunus

americana Marsh.), honey locust (Gleditsia aquatica Marsh.), red mulberry

(Morus rubra L.), white ash, and witch-hazel. Understory plants include spice

bush, grapes (Vitis sp.), blackberrys (Rubus sp.), and cane (Arundinaria sp.).

It should be noted that the vegetative communities currently existing in

the Park have been altered from the "natural" state that existed prior to the

arrival of Euro-Americans in the late 1700s (Prentice 1993). Introduced

European diseases such as Chestnut Blight and Dutch Elm Disease, forest

fires, selective lumbering, and land clearing practices for agriculture and


grazing have modified the makeup of the various vegetative communities. The

best example of this is in the upland valleys where nineteenth and early

twentieth century land clearing and farming practices have produced a

successional forest of cedars, pines, and grasslands. Some evidence suggests

that the pre-Euro-American vegetative communities in these upland valleys

consisted of a forest dominated by oaks and would have been similar in

composition to Faller's (1975) "Mixed Woods" category, which includes white

oak, southern red oak (Quercus falcata Michx.), northern red oak, black oak,

chinquapin oak, and mockernut hickory (Wagner 1978; Carstens 1980:60).

The prehistoric distribution of the vegetative communities in the area

has not been studied in detail, but generalizations can be made based on the

existing archeobotanical and limited pollen data. Present ideas hold that the

correlation of vegetative communities with the major topographic zones

outlined above has been a relatively stable one since the Hypsithermal, roughly

5000 to 6000 years ago (Carstens 1980:59-60; Delcourt and Delcourt 1981;

Prentice 1993; Wagner 1978; Watson and Carstens 1982:24). Prior to this time

the vegetative regimes were considerably different, reflecting the major global

warming and cooling trends that followed the last ice age.

The general sequence for environmental change in the Kentucky region

shortly before and during the times of known human occupation can be

summarized as follows. The peak of the Late Wisconsin Continental Glaciation

is dated 16000 B.C. (Delcourt and Delcourt 1981). Located some distance from


the Laurentide Ice Sheet, Kentucky was dominated by Jack Pine forest with

spruce and fir as subordinate species.

By around 12000 B.C., a warming trend began that caused the retreat

of continental ice and the migration of major forest zones toward the north.

Spruce-Jack Pine forest came to dominate the Kentucky landscape. With

continued climatic amelioration, the migration of forest zones toward the north

continued, so that by roughly 8000 B.C., Kentucky became dominated by Mixed

Hardwood forests with relic "islands" of spruce and fir occurring at higher


From roughly 7000 to 3000 B.C. there was a warming and drying trend

that is now referred to as the Hypsithermal Interval. This climatic shift was

due to an increase in the westerly prevailing winds and resulted in another

shift in the Midwest's biotic regimes. In Kentucky, the Mixed Hardwood

forests changed to Oak-Hickory dominated forests in the western portion of the

state with Mixed Hardwoods continuing to predominate in the eastern.

Remnants of hemlock, spruce, and fir continued to persist where conditions

would permit, primarily north facing bluffline areas.

Following the warm and dry conditions of the Hypsithermal, there has

been a cooling trend with generally increasing precipitation that has persisted

until the present time. Since this time, the predominant forest zones of

Kentucky have apparently changed very little (Delcourt and Delcourt 1981).


Archaeological studies have reasonably demonstrated that the currently

existing major forest zones in the Park were established by sometime around

4000 B.C. (Wagner 1978; Carstens 1980; Prentice 1993), but there is some

evidence that localized changes in vegetation zones occurred (Schoenwetter

1974; Wagner 1978:28; Carstens 1980:60-61; Yarnell 1974b), possibly as a

result of human alteration of habitat (e.g., forest clearing) or climatic

perturbations (e.g., periods of drought). These variations do not appear to have

affected to any significant degree the correspondence between major vegetation

zones and the major topographic zones in the Park.

Primary Floral Resources

Knowing that the major plant communities were established by roughly

4000 B.C. and that the general distributions of plant resources within each of

the major topographic zones have also remained stable, it is possible to begin

modeling resource potential and how human patterns of plant exploitation

affected prehistoric settlement patterns. It is first necessary, however, to

identify those individual plant species that could have been utilized, where and

when they were available for exploitation, and how efficiently they could be

harvested and stored for use. To assist in the presentation of this plant

resource data, Table 1 has been compiled for the reader.

The information contained in Table 1 has been derived primarily from

Reidhead's (1981) extensive study of plant resources for southeastern Indiana.


The data format is different from Reidhead's, however, in that the estimated

potential harvest is given in terms of kilograms-per-hectare and not in terms

of total site catchment area. The derived figures in Table 1 will then be used

on a site by site basis to estimate catchment harvest rates for different site

catchments in the Park.

Other than data format, the only other difference between the original

figures presented by Reidhead and those presented in Table 1 involve the

categories of mushrooms and sunflowers. Reidhead did not evaluate the

potential to which mushrooms and sunflowers could have contributed to the

diets of prehistoric native Americans, but the abundance of mushrooms in the

Mammoth Cave area and the occurrence of sunflower seeds in the

archaeological record necessitate the inclusion of these species in a subsistence

optimization model.

The author collected morel mushrooms several times while pursuing

archaeological research in the Park. Appearing on the upland ridges and the

upper slopes of the bluffline areas in mid-spring, morels can be gathered in

large numbers. At the right time of year, a person can easily collect a five-

pound paper bag full of morels in about one hour. Requiring no other

processing, they can be eaten raw or cooked. Humans are not the only animals

that consume morels, however. Squirrels eat them (personal observation), and

other omnivores no doubt consume them as well. Based on the gathering

experiences of the author at Mammoth Cave and an estimated loss of 50% of


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morels to other animals and insects, an estimate of 500 gm/ha is proposed for

the potential yield for morel harvesting, the figure presented in Table 1.

Sunflowers were cultivated in the Green River drainage area and other

portions of the Midwest, by the terminal Late Archaic period (Asch and Asch

1985; Watson 1985; Yarnell 1978; Yarnell and Black 1985; Gremillion 1993),

and judging from their occurrence in the archaeological records at sites like

Salts Cave, Mammoth Cave, and Carlston Annis (Marquardt 1974; Marquardt

and Watson 1983a, 1983b; Yarnell 1969; Gardner 1987) were well established

cultivars in the Green River area by the Early Woodland period. Reidhead did

not include sunflowers among the potential food resources in his site

catchment analysis, an omission that is unfortunate because it reduces the

comparability of the results of his study with those presented here.

The potential yield estimate for sunflower cultivation used in this study

was derived in a manner similar to that used by Reidhead (1981) in estimating

maize and squash yields. Starting with a conservative "third world" modern

production rate of 900 kg of seeds produced per ha (Beard 1981:159), a figure

of 630 kg/ha (30% less) was chosen as the potential Green River aboriginal

production yield. Allowing for a 50% loss of the potential crop to insects, birds,

disease and other causes, reduces the estimated average sunflower seed

harvest to 315 kg/ha. The estimate for labor investment costs for planting,

harvesting, processing, and storing sunflower seeds was assumed to be


comparable to that estimated by Reidhead for the aboriginal production of

maize. That figure was 1315.3 workhours/ha (532.5 workhours/acre).

The remainder of the data presented in Table 1 was derived from

Reidhead's estimates of productivity for a 15 mi2 (3886.6 ha) catchment area

in southeastern Indiana. Reidhead divided his catchment area into upland

(27.6%), terrace and slope (30.8%), floodplain (34.9%), and open water (6.8%)

and based his total potential harvest on the animal and plant species occurring

within each zone. The same approach is adopted here.

Based on archaeological and ethnohistorical research, it is possible to

identify particular native plant species that were economically important to the

prehistoric inhabitants of the project area. Perhaps the most important of

these were the hickory trees, which provided a dependable source of food in the

form of nuts. Archaeological remains associated with Archaic, Woodland, and

Mississippian sites within Mammoth Cave National Park (Carstens 1980;

Gremillion 1990; Wagner 1978; Yarnell 1974a, 1974b), have demonstrated the

use of hickory nuts as a primary source of food from 4000 B.C. to historic

times. Hickory nuts are harvestable from September through November

(Wagner 1978), can be stored for later use, and are high in calories and


A recent study by Keller (1987) has demonstrated that pignut,

mockernut, shagbark, and bitternut hickories produce, on the average, between

44 and 62 1 (1.25 to 1.75 bu) of nuts per year. Allowing for a loss of 90% of the


annual nut harvest to competing animal species, insects, disease, and decay,

still provides an estimated annual exploitable yield of 53 1 (1.5 bu) of nuts per

hectare if the hickory tree density equals just ten trees per hectare (four trees

per acre). Assuming for the moment that the Oak-Hickory forests in just the

upland ridge areas of the Park contained a density often trees per hectare, the

potential annual hickory harvest within the Park boundaries would have been

485,035 1 (13,775 bu) using the 90% loss rate. At an average weight of

approximately 0.83 kg per 1 (29.5 kg per bushel) (Keller 1987), that amounts

to over 406 metric tons of exploitable hickory nuts from the upland ridge areas.

Reidhead (1981:190) has shown that meat weight accounts for approximately

30% of the total weight of hickory nuts, which means the upland ridges alone

would have produced over 121 metric tons of nut meat using the 90% loss rate

and 53 liter per hectare estimate.

Keller's study also demonstrated the productive potential of acorns from

the oak trees common to the Mammoth Cave area. Although acorns generally

require processing to remove the tannins which would otherwise make them

unpalatable, they were used as a food source by the prehistoric inhabitants of

the Mammoth Cave area (Wagner 1978; Gremillion 1990; Yarnell 1974a,

1974b). Keller's (1987:185) data indicate that most oaks currently found in the

Mammoth Cave area would produce an average 31 1 (0.875 bu) of acorns per

tree. Again, allowing for a 90% loss of the acorn mast to natural causes, an

estimated harvestable yield of 186 1 (5.25 bu) of acorns per hectare is possible


if the average oak tree density equals just 60 trees/ha (24 trees per acre).

Again, looking only at the upland ridge areas and the density figure of 60

trees/ha, the potential annual acorn harvest within the Park boundaries would

have been 48,210 bu using the 90% loss rate. At an average weight of

approximately 0.57 kg per 1 (20 kg/bu) (Keller 1987), that amounts to over 964

metric tons. Reidhead (1981:184) has shown that meat weight accounts for

approximately 65% of the total weight of acorns, which means the upland

ridges within the Park would have produced over 262 metric tons of nut meat.

These calculations are of limited value, of course, for computing acorn

and hickory nut yields for determining such things as optimal resource

potential since we lack the data for determining the actual prehistoric hickory

and oak tree densities per hectare through time for each of the topographic

zones of the Park. There also is no way of determining the exact percentage

of the oak and hickory masts that would have been lost to animals, insects,

and the like (cf. Reidhead 1981). These figures do show, however, that the

potential of hickory nuts and acorns to provide a significant portion of the

prehistoric diet was present and would have been available for human

exploitation during the entire Late Archaic through Mississippian time periods.

Archaeological data gathered in the Park (Gremillion 1990; Wagner

1978; Yarnell 1974a, 1974b) have also identified other wild plant resources

that were used prehistorically for food. These include black walnuts,

hazelnuts, grapes, strawberries, blackberry, blueberry, pokeweed, purslane,


honey locust, viburnum seeds, sumac seeds, amaranth, knotweed, panic grass,

maygrass, chenopodium, and tubers. Estimated harvest rates per hectare

using 50 to 90 percent natural loss ratios have been prepared for the majority

of these species in Table 1. These rates are derived from figures provided by

Keller (1987), and Reidhead (1981), and have the same merit as those figures

presented for hickory and acorn above. Among those species listed above,

several are not included in Table 1 because harvestability and procurement

cost estimates were not available.

Primary Faunal Resources

Faunal communities in Mammoth Cave National Park, as in any area,

occupy those particular habitats that provide them with the food and shelter

they need. For some animal species a seasonal shift from one area to another

may occur. This is true, for example, for the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus

virginianus) which concentrate in the uplands during the fall and winter where

they can feed on the acorn mast and where they can shelter in the upland

valleys (Smith 1975; Reidhead 1981). In the spring, deer move to the

floodplain areas where they can browse on new shoots and grasses. Wild

turkeys also have a similar seasonal round, concentrating in large numbers in

the uplands in fall to feed on the nut masts, and dispersing in the spring and

summer (Reidhead 1981). During all seasons of the year turkey prefer to roost

near water, and this often results in wide ranging movements in a single day

(Reidhead 1981:151-152). Other animal species are less mobile and will

inhabit a particular habitat year round. These include fish, freshwater

mussels, and aquatic turtles, which are basically restricted to the Green and

Nolin rivers. Some aquatic species such as crayfish and frogs have somewhat

wider distributions and can also be found in intermittent streams and ponds.

It is possible then, like the wild plant resources, to indicate where and

when various animal resources would have been available for exploitation by

the prehistoric inhabitants of the Mammoth Cave area. In order to present

this information more conveniently, Table 2 shows the seasonal availability of

the various animal resources recovered archaeologically in the Park, and the

most likely topographic zone in which they would be procured. The data in

this table have been derived primarily from Reidhead (1981) and Smith (1975),

with freshwater mussel data based on surveys conducted within the Park

(Manzano and Prentice 1991). Those interested in how seasonality and density

figures were derived by Reidhead (1981) and Smith (1975) should consult those

sources. The mussel data were collected by Manzano and Prentice (1991)

during the survey of nine transects across the Green River, each transect being

3.0 m wide. During a total of 4.75 workhours of collecting, 480 mussels

representing 24 species were collected. Approximately 76% of these were

either three ridge (Amblema plicata, 43%) or common muckets (Actinonaias

carinata, 33%). The average meat weight for three ridge mussels was 56.5 gm;

the average for muckets was 44.0 gm.

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From a potential food perspective, the most important mammal taxa

now living in the Park include white-tailed deer, raccoon (Procyon lotor)

opossum (Didelphis marsupialis), rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus), groundhog

(Marmota monax), squirrels (Sciurus spp.), and beaver (Castor canadensis).

These species make up the bulk of the mammal remains recovered from

prehistoric sites in the Park (Carstens 1980; Duffield 1974; Prentice 1993).

Other mammals inhabiting the area include muskrat (Ondatra zibethica), red

fox (Vulpes fulva), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and striped skunk

(Mephitis mephitis).

Several mammal species that were present in the Park area before the

arrival of White settlers have since been exterminated. These include black

bear (Ursus nigra), wolf (Canis lupus), porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), and

mountain lion or panther (Felis concolor).

The most important bird species recovered archaeologically are turkey

(Meleagris gallopavo) and ducks (Anatidae). Of the identifiable avian remains

recovered from prehistoric sites, turkey predominates. Other birds currently

found in the Park that were available for prehistoric exploitation include

bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus), and mourning dove (Zenaida macroura).

Migratory passenger pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius) would also have been

present seasonally for exploitation, but they have since become extinct due to

historic overhunting.

The most common reptiles occurring in the archaeological record are

turtles, particularly the box turtle (Terrapene carolina). This species is

commonly found throughout the Park today. Members of the mud turtle group

(Kinosternon spp.) and snakes also are found regularly in prehistoric sites in

the Park.

A diverse range of freshwater mussel species within the Green and Nolin

rivers provided a dependable food source for the prehistoric inhabitants of the

area. Surprisingly, although freshwater mussels occur at many sites in the

Park, they generally occur in relatively few numbers. When they do occur,

there does not appear to be any prehistoric selection toward collecting any

particular species of mussels. The following mussel species have been

recovered from archaeological deposits: rabbitfoot (Quadrula cylindrica),

monkey face (Quadrula metanevra), spike (Elliptio dilatata), purple wartyback

(Cyclonaias tuberculata), three ridge (Amblema plicata), pocketbook mussel

(Lampsilis ovata), common mucket (Actinonaias carinata), elephant ear

(Elliptio crassidens), fanshell (Cyprogenia irrorata), subrotundra (Fusconaia

subrotundra), pleurobema (probably Pleurobema coccineum, Pleurobema clava

and Pleurobema cordatum), Ptychobranchus sp., crackling pearly (Hemistena

lata), cat's claw (Epioblasma sp.), black sandshell (Ligumia recta), pink

heelsplitter (Potamilus alatus), and sheepnose (Plethobasus cyphyus). Edible

gastropods also harvested from the rivers prehistorically include Elimia sp.,

Anculosa sp., Lithasia sp., Pleurocera sp., and Campeloma sp.

The freshwater mussels and aquatic gastropods recovered from

archaeological contexts in the Park are all shallow water species that can be

gathered relatively easily during periods of low water flow. As a part of the

Mammoth Cave National Park Archeological Inventory Project (MCNPAIP),

Bruce L. Manzano and I conducted a series of transect surveys across different

sections of the Green River at different seasons of the year (late spring,

summer, fall) in order to estimate population numbers, to collect samples for

seasonality studies, and to collect nutritional information on three species of

freshwater mussels. As a result of these studies, we conservatively estimated

a total mussel population of roughly 16,000,000 (61,472 mussels/ha) for those

stretches of the Green and Nolin Rivers contained within the boundaries of the

Park (Manzano and Prentice 1991). These studies demonstrated the ease with

which mussels could be gathered during the summer and fall when low water

and warm weather made wading in the cool river waters possible. At these

times of the year it was possible for a single person to collect 101 mussels per

hour on average by simply feeling about with hands and feet in the substrate

of the river. In the winter and early spring, however, extremely cold water

temperatures and frequent flooding made mussel collecting extremely difficult,

so much so that it was not possible to collect mussels from the river safely

during several winter attempts to do so.

The nutritional studies conducted on the collected mussels were

performed by National Environmental Testing, Inc., of Chicago. Samples of

the two most common mussels currently found in the Park, three ridge mussels

(Amblema plicata) and common muckets (Actinonaias carinata), were collected

in May, August, and October and were submitted for nutritional analysis. The

results of the analyses presented in Table 3.

Many edible fish species, including catfish (Ictaluridae) and bass

(Micropterus sp.), currently found in the waters of the Green and Nolin rivers,

were available to the prehistoric inhabitants of the area. Other species of fish

presently inhabiting the river that would have been prehistorically exploitable

include muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus),

freshwater drum (Apolodinotos grunniens), gizzard shad (Dorosoma

cepedianum), and gar (Lepisosteus sp.). Surprisingly, however, few fish

remains have been recovered from archaeological contexts in the Park. The

few fish remains that were recovered during the MCNPAIP that could be

assigned to species included only catfish (Ictaluridae) and gar (Lepisosteus sp.).

The remaining specimens could only be identified as fish. There are several

possible explanations (e.g., poor preservation, recovery technique, site

seasonality, dietary avoidance, etc.) for the paucity offish in the archaeological

record. As we shall see in later sections of this treatise, the paucity of fish

remains is probably a function of seasonality.

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Summary Observations

The stability of the dominant forest zones and their concomitant floral

and faunal resources since roughly 4000 B.C., provides the archaeologist with

an excellent opportunity to study the ways in which human social groups

evolved in a relatively unchanging environment. From approximately 4000

B.C. until the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, the natural environment

apparently provided the same resources from which to select materials for

obtaining food, tools, clothing, and shelter. Those seeking to account for

cultural change during this broad time frame must look primarily, therefore,

at human factors as .the variables with environmental factors acting as

constants. Approaching the problem from a Marxist economic perspective, I

hope to show that decision-making regarding subsistence production formed

the basis for the prehistoric settlement patterns exhibited in the study area.

Before turning to the theoretical examination of subsistence and settlement

patterns, however, the history of previous archaeological investigations in the

Park and the results of those investigations will be discussed. The historical

section will be followed by a summary of the results of the Mammoth Cave

National Park Archeological Inventory Project survey.



Archaeological investigations in Mammoth Cave National Park have had

a long history and have gone through several phases of investigative focus that

reflected the interests and theoretical concerns of the times. While it is

possible to assign the different phases of past archaeological investigations in

the Park to broad categories reflecting national trends in archaeological

pursuits, such as those devised by Willey and Sabloff (1980), it was deemed

more appropriate to categorize Mammoth Cave archaeology in terms of phases

with more local applicability. These phases can be categorized as: (1) the Pre-

Park Years (1800-1941); (2) the Early Park Years (1941-1962); (3) the Cave

Research Years (1963-1974); and (4) the Survey Years (1974-1990).

The Pre-Park Years (1800-1941)

During the Pre-Park Years, the focus of archaeological investigation in

the Mammoth Cave area was primarily on Mammoth, Salts, and other caves

and the unique artifactual assemblages preserved within them. It was during

these early years that Rafinesque (1824), Collins (1848, 1874), Putnam (1875,


1976), Young (1897, 1910), Moore (1916) and others concerned themselves with

enumerating the variety of sites in the area and the types of artifacts collected

from them. It was also during this time period that most of the famous

"mummies" and other significant finds of Mammoth and Salts Caves were

found and exhibited (Meloy 1968). Many prehistoric artifacts from the caves

and surrounding areas were collected as souvenirs for sale to the public and

many of the impressive finds eventually made their way to museum collections

in the eastern United States. Hundreds more artifacts were destroyed in

bonfires lit by the cave guides in order to illuminate the caves for tourists.

The amassing of hundreds of Mammoth Cave artifacts by John M.

Nelson epitomized the nature of the archaeological pursuits during the Pre-

Park Years. Between 1894 and 1942, John M. Nelson and his two sons

collected artifacts from Mammoth Cave and other sites in the surrounding

area. His collection technique included digging for artifacts as well as surface

collecting. In 1942 this collection was purchased by the Mammoth Cave

National Park Association and donated to Mammoth Cave National Park

(Carey 1942, Schwartz 1958b). The collection has been subsequently cataloged

by Carey (1942), and analyzed and assessed by Schwartz (1958b), by Kerley,

Muething, and Carstens (1978), and by Carstens (1980) as a means of

assigning temporal placement to these occupations and of identifying the types

of activities performed at the sites. More recently, Western Kentucky

University archaeologist Terry Langford has been contracted by the Park


Service to reanalyze and catalog the Nelson Collection. Unfortunately, the

reliability of the site provenience assigned to these materials is highly suspect,

and the temporal assignment given to sites on the basis of Nelson's collection

is untrustworthy.

The arrival of Nels C. Nelson in the Mammoth Cave area in 1916

signaled the first "scientific" archaeological excavations in what was to become

Mammoth Cave National Park. Nelson, a professional archaeologist from the

American Museum of Natural History, visited the Mammoth Cave area in May

and November of 1916. In 1913 the management of Mammoth Cave had

donated many artifacts from Mammoth and Salts Caves to the Museum; the

Museum was now interested in learning where and under what conditions such

materials were preserved (Nelson 1917:4; Schwartz 1958h:1).

During his visit, Nelson recorded the locations of 23 historic and

prehistoric sites located within the present Park boundaries; among them:

Mammoth Cave Fields (Park site number MACA-51), Mammoth Cave Ferry #1

(MACA-52), Nelson's Rockshelter (MACA-82), Salts Sink Surface (MACA-73),

Salts Cave Interior (MACA-89), Mammoth Cave Ferry #2 (MACA-140),

Mammoth Cave (MACA-215), Dixon Cave (MACA-219), Moonshiners' Cave

(MACA-223), Curtis Cave Field (MACA-226), Bone Cave (MACA-229), Haunted

Cave (MACA-230), White Cave (MACA-231), and Houchins Valley Quarry

(MACA-881). Although it has yet to be confirmed by more complete historical

documentation, it appears that the following sites were also included among

Nelson's list of sites: Great Onyx Cave Fields (MACA-53), Owl Cave (MACA-

93), Cedar Sink Rockshelter (MACA-97) (Owl Cave and Cedar Sink

Rockshelter are probably Nelson's site 12, simply referred to as "Cedar Sink"),

Hollow Creek (MACA-131), Adwell Springs (MACA-212), and Great Onyx Cave

(MACA-232). Eventually these sites were included within the Park boundaries

and are now currently listed on the Park's Cultural Sites Inventory.

In addition to the sites enumerated above, Nelson identified two

rockshelters on the Napa farm, which he described as being located on the

north bank of the Green River approximately two miles upstream from

Mammoth Cave. This description places the two rockshelters in the vicinity

of Big Hollow where three known rockshelters have been recorded (MACA-96,

MACA-158, and MACA-159). Nelson identified two more open site/chert

scatters in the Park, one below Bedquilt Cave and one in Eaton Valley, south

of Three Springs Pumphouse. The location and nature of these sites is

unknown at this time.

While conducting his field work in the area, Nelson collected artifacts

from the surfaces of many of his reported sites and included the descriptions

of specific materials from four sites--Mammoth Cave Field (MACA-51),

Mammoth Cave Ferry #2 (MACA-140), Curtis Cave Field (MACA-226) [Nelson

included the Houchins Valley Quarry site (MACA-881) as part of MACA-226],

and Salts Sink Surface (MACA-73)--in his published report, Contributions to

the Archaeology of Mammoth Cave and Vicinity, Kentucky (1917). He also


conducted excavations at two sites: Nelson's Rockshelter (MACA-82) and

Mammoth Cave (MACA-215), and he included accounts of his findings at both

sites in his 1917 report.

Nelson's work in the Mammoth Cave area is important in several ways.

First, it was conducted at a time when a significant portion of the Park was

cleared of forest and ground surface visibility was better than it is today. This

allowed Nelson to identify open air sites in Eaton and Houchins Valley that

otherwise would not be recorded today. Second, it represented the first study

to recognize two distinct prehistoric cultural-historical periods in the area.

Nelson (1917:69) concluded on the basis of his excavations and survey that

there had been an earlier peoples who lived by subsisting on the natural

resources of the land, and a later people who practiced agriculture. Third, his

excavations in the Vestibule of Mammoth Cave (MACA-215), provide us with

the best information we have (limited though it may be) of the various

prehistoric occupations in this portion of the site. Fourth, Nelson (1917:68)

was the first to suggest that cannibalism may have been practiced by the

inhabitants of the Mammoth Cave area, an idea later embraced by Robbins

(1974) and Watson (1974).

Fowke was the next archaeologist to visit the Mammoth Cave area. As

a representative of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Fowke came to the

Mammoth Cave area sometime around 1919 as part of the BAE's program for

inventorying cave sites in the eastern United States. Fowke's (1922) report

listed the major caves in the area, including Salts Cave (MACA-89), Mammoth

Cave (MACA-215), Dixon Cave (MACA-219), White Cave (MACA-231), Colossal

Cave (MACA-227), Proctor Cave (MACA-228), and Haunted Cave (MACA-230).

Toward the end of the Pre-Park period, professional archaeologists such

as Webb and Funkhouser (1932) and Pond (1935a, 1935b, 1935c, 1937) began

more systematic treatments of the archaeological data. Still, their treatments

of these resources were more descriptive and episodic than substantive. As

part of a county by county "mail in" survey of prehistoric archaeological sites

in Kentucky, Webb and Funkhouser (1932) reported the locations of eight sites

in Edmonson County that are presently located within the boundaries of

Mammoth Cave National Park. These sites are: the rockshelter at Sand Cave

(MACA-74), Indian Hill-Top (MACA-78), Nelson's Rockshelter (MACA-82),

Salts Cave Interior (MACA-89), Mammoth Cave Ferry #2 (MACA-140),

Mammoth Cave (MACA-215), Curtis Cave Field (MACA-226), and Haunted

Cave (MACA-230). In addition to these sites, Webb and Funkhouser also

reported the location of "A group of mounds on the property of the Kentucky

Rock Asphalt Company across the Nolin River from Kyrock. These mounds are

situated on a knob known as 'Whistle Mountain' and have never been

explored" (Webb and Funkhouser (1932:107). The existence of these possible

mounds within the boundary of the Park will receive further discussion below.

Pond's work in Mammoth Cave National Park focused on the recovery

and investigation of the desiccated body known as Lost John (Pond 1935a,


1935b, 1935c, 1937). Alonzo Pond, a National Park Service Junior

Archeologist, was called to Mammoth Cave on June 10, 1935, to examine the

corpse of the prehistoric miner after it was discovered by cave guides Lyman

Cutliff and Grover Campbell. During his stay at Mammoth Cave, Pond spent

several days examining some of the local rockshelters and other sites in the

area (1935b, 1935c). Two unpublished manuscripts written by Pond (1935a,

1935b), indicate that he visited Nolin/Second Creek Rockshelter (MACA-18),

Cubby Cove Rockshelter #1 (MACA-24), Indian Hill Rockshelter East (MACA-

72), Indian Hill Top (MACA-78), and Salts Cave (MACA-89). Although Pond

was aware of the need to do more archaeological work outside of the caves,

little was done along these lines until many years later.

Because Pond's primary aim was the recovery and interpreting of Lost

John's body, most of his time was spent investigating prehistoric mining

practices in Mammoth Cave. Pond's observations regarding prehistoric mining

practices within Mammoth Cave included the pecking of gypsum crust from

exposed rock surfaces using expedient tools, the digging for gypsum crystals

(selenite) in sedimentary deposits with digging sticks, the sorting of crystals

from other rocky debris at sorting beds within the cave passages, and the use

of small trees as climbing ladders (Pond 1935a, 1935b, 1935c, 1937). Toward

the examination of the latter, Pond obtained corings from an aboriginal ladder

in Blue Spring Avenue and another in Black Chambers. Hoping to date the

ladders through dendrochronology, Pond sent the corings along with borings


taken from 13 cedar trees in the Mammoth Cave area by Noel B. Wysong to

Florence Hawley. In a letter dated February 13, 1936, Hawley informed Pond

that the cores were undatable because too few growth rings were present from

the aboriginal ladder corings (letter on file, Mammoth Cave National Park).

Georg K. Neumann (1937, 1938) later assumed the task of analyzing the

remains of Lost John along with those of a primary burial recovered by

workmen near the entrance of Mammoth Cave in 1930. This "vestibule" burial

consisted of an adult female, roughly 18 to 19 years of age, buried in a flexed

position in an oval grave. The grave was lined with a grass or fiber matting

that was said to have been burned, but no other materials were associated

with the burial. Neumann's analysis of Lost John indicated that the

unfortunate miner had been approximately 161 cm (5' 3.5") tall and somewhere

between 41 and 51 years old when he died.

The Early Park Years (1941-1960)

With the establishment of Mammoth Cave National Park in July, 1941,

the emphasis of archaeological research in the Park changed from one of a

primarily amateur/collector interest to a focus on prehistoric sites and artifact

collections inventory. It was during these Early Park Years that Carey (1942)

was hired to catalog the John Nelson Collection. Dr. Henry A. Carey was

employed from June 1 to November 1, 1942, to catalog the collection and obtain

information on artifact provenience. As a result of this research, the

provenience of many artifacts was attributed (based on Nelson's memory) to

eight sites within the Park: Mammoth Cave (MACA-215), Mammoth Cave

Ferry #1 (MACA-52), Salts Cave Interior (MACA-89), Green River Fields

(MACA-104), Salts Sink Surface (MACA-73), Sell's Farm/Salts Cave Fields

(MACA-92), Indian Hill Top (MACA-78), and Indian Hill Rockshelter East

(MACA-72). Unfortunately the proveniences attributed to the items in the

collection are very suspect, and therefore of limited value.

On November 13, 1946, a trail crew repairing the trail near the entrance

to Mammoth Cave uncovered an Indian burial located along the south wall of

the vestibule approximately 35 ft inside the iron gate. The burial was not

located during the actual repair of the trail, but was uncovered during the

lunch hour by two members of the trail crew who were interested in seeing if

burials were present in the areas where thumping on the cave floor produced

a hollow sound. With the approval of their supervisor, the two dug in two

areas that produced the hollow sounds and, partly true to their predictions,

found the remains of a human burial in one of the locations. In the other

location, animal bones were encountered. The bones were subsequently

reburied and Regional Archeologist Jean ("Pinky") Harrington was contacted

regarding the finds. Harrington arrived at the cave on November 21 to

investigate. He found the human burial associated with "some sort of grass or

fibre matting," but no other materials. The animal bones were determined to

be those of a "small mammal" (Harrington 1946).

The human burial investigated by Harrington was similar in some ways

to the "vestibule" burial recovered nearby in 1930 and described by Georg K.

Neumann (1937, 1938). Each individual was buried on a fiber mat without

other accompanying artifacts; both were apparently placed in shallow pits; and

both burials were buried in the same general area. The location of the 1930

vestibule burial had been marked with a cross on the ceiling of the cave at a

point roughly 44 ft inside the Vestibule gate. This location places the 1930

burial roughly 9 ft from the 1946 burial (Harrington 1946).

In 1957, Douglas W. Schwartz began the first of several projects oriented

towards an inventory of the archaeological resources within the Park.

Schwartz apparently spent the greatest amount of his field time examining

those sites previously described in the archaeological literature and those

reported to him by local informants (Schwartz 1958a, 1958b, 1958d, 1958h;

Sloan and Schwartz 1960). He also spent considerable time examining the

artifacts from the Nelson Collection and from Salts and Mammoth Caves

(Schwartz 1958b, 1958c, 1958d, 1958e, 1958f, 1958g).

In 1958, Schwartz (1958d) reported the locations of 16 known "sites"

within the Park. These sites consisted of six open sites (four upland, two

bottomland), three rockshelters, the entrance and interior of Salts Cave, and

the Vestibule and four interior sections of Mammoth Cave. Schwartz

(1958d:21-24) also described 27 "unsurveyed" site locations that he had yet to

confirm by field work.


In 1960, after additional field work, Sloan and Schwartz (1960) were

able to report the locations of 38 "sites" confirmed by their fieldwork. These

sites consisted of nine open sites (four bottomland, five upland), 15

rockshelters, the interior of Salts Cave, and the Vestibule and 12 interior

locations within Mammoth Cave. These resources are now listed as 25

archaeological sites on the Park Service's Cultural Sites Inventory with the 12

interior locations within Mammoth Cave (MACA-215) treated as contributing

elements to this single, albeit extensive, cave site.

One of Sloan and Schwartz's (1960) "confirmed" sites, Mc 2, has yet to

be identified. The Me 2 site was described as follows:

The Me 2 site number is now being used to
designate a preserved Paleoindian site on the
western edge of the Park. A fluted point fragment
was found here and given to the Mammoth Cave
Park Museum. This artifact came from a rock
shelter above the Nolin River on the old Webb farm,
but the exact location was not known nor was there
any other information available concerning other
artifacts at the site [Sloan and Schwartz 1960:17].

According to Sloan and Schwartz's description of Mc 2, the site is

apparently located somewhere in the Second Creek area of the Park. The "old

Webb farm" they referred to is probably MACA-266 or a site nearby. Several

rockshelters in that general area have been recorded, and it is possible that

one of these sites is Sloan and Schwartz's Mc 2. Further documentary

research may be able to pinpoint the exact location of Mc 2, but it will rely on

documentation that has not surfaced as yet.


In addition to the 38 confirmed sites listed in 1960, Sloan and Schwartz

(1960:29) also recorded 19 unconfirmed sites in the Park: five of these were site

locations which they were unable to visit due to "a variety of reasons" (Sloan

and Schwartz 1960:28), and 14 were locations that they were able to visit, but

due to dense vegetative growth were unable to locate artifactual materials. Of

these 19 unconfirmed sites, all but one are now listed on the Cultural Sites

Inventory. The remaining unlisted site is Location 5 (Sloan and Schwartz

1960:29), which consists of a group of "mounds" first reported by Webb and

Funkhouser (1932:107). These mounds are located on the bluff crest across the

Nolin River from the town of Kyrock, and have been assigned state site

number 15Ed7. These "mounds" appear as three small elevated areas at the

700' contour interval on the USGS 7.5' Nolin Lake, KY. Quadrangle (1966,

Photo-revised 1982) at UTM coordinates E565800 N4124000. It is possible

that these "mounds" are natural elevations on the bluff crest. Because the

"mounds" have not been examined and confirmed as having a cultural origin,

they will not be considered as a site(s) in this study.

The Cave Research Years (1961-1970)

The major emphasis toward simply identifying and inventorying cultural

resources in Mammoth Cave National Park during the Early Park Years came

to an end in 1961 when the Cave Research Foundation began sponsoring

archaeological investigations in Salts Cave: carbon dating soot deposits within

the cave (Benington et al. 1962). It was with this project that the Cave

Research period began and Patty Jo Watson initiated her long interest and

major accomplishments in Mammoth Cave area archaeology. It was also

during the Cave Research Years that the archaeological emphasis changed

from the enumeration of culture traits toward the understanding of cultural

change and process. As a result of Watson's and her colleagues work in the

caves at Mammoth Cave National Park, we are in a better position to evaluate:

(1) the adoption of horticulture during the Archaic period; (2) the shift during

the Late Archaic/Woodland periods from a hunting and gathering economy to

one that relied considerably on domesticated plants; (3) prehistoric mining

activities within the cave systems of the Park; and, (4) changes in prehistoric

ceremonial practices during the Archaic and later time periods. This is due in

large part to the data gathered during excavations in the Vestibule and

interiors of Salts Cave (MACA-89), at Salts Sink Surface (MACA-73), and at

Sell's Farm (MACA-92) (Watson 1969, 1974).

Excavations within Salts Cave were conducted in August, 1963, under

the supervision of Robert Hall and Patty Jo Watson (Watson 1969, 1974:71).

These excavations consisted of the removal of 8 m2 from two units designated

Unit A and B. Unit A was a 2-by-2 m square excavated to a depth of 1.4 m;

Unit B was a 2-by-2 m square excavated to a depth of 30 cm. The two

excavation units (A and B) were excavated within the upper passages of the

cave (referred to as Upper Salts) and some 70 representative surface artifacts

were collected from Upper, Middle, and Lower Salts passages (Watson 1969:5).

These included cane torch remains, part of a wooden platter (?), mussel shells,

limestone mining tools, a full grooved stone maul, sandal fragments, wood,

bark, leaves, and squash and bottle gourd fragments. Forty-seven fecal

samples were also collected from the cave (Watson 1969:Table 1).

Watson also conducted excavations in Salts Cave Vestibule from 1969

to 1971 (Watson 1974:71). The excavation units were designated Units C, D,

E, F, F Extension, G, H, and J. The eight covered a total area of 29 m2 and

were located primarily near the north wall of the cave approximately 45 m

from the present cave entrance. Unit D was the exception, being placed along

the south wall of the cave. During her 1969 investigations at Salts Cave,

Watson and her crew also conducted pedestrian surveys in the Park. While

surveying both banks of the Green River between Dennison Ferry and Three

Sisters Island, Watson's crews found a few chert artifacts associated with

MACA-35, and at Indian Hill, Watson's crew members noted artifactual

materials on top of the hill (MACA-78), but none in the rockshelters

surrounding it. Watson's 1969 crew also walked the southern floodplain of the

Green River between Great Onyx Cave and Three Sisters Hollow without

finding any evidence of a site.

Perhaps the most significant results of the work of Watson and of her

colleagues in Salts Cave is the information gathered concerning prehistoric

dietary practices and the early domestication of plants in the Green River area.

Yarnell's (1969, 1974a, 1974b) analysis of the plant remains recovered from the

paleofeces taken from the cave, the intestinal contents of the desiccated human

remains known as Little Al, and the Salts Cave Vestibule flotation samples

indicates a diet high in hickory (Carya sp.) nuts and starchy seeds--sunflower

(Helianthus annuus), marshelder (Iva annua), goosefoot (Chenopodium sp.),

maygrass (Phalaris caroliniana), and amaranth (Amaranthus sp.). The wild

and domesticated plant foods represented in the Salt Cavers' diets suggests use

of the cave primarily in the late fall through spring months (Yarnell 1969:50).

Although Watson's work in Salts Cave provided valuable information

regarding the adoption of Late Archaic and Early Woodland horticultural

practices, these practices were in relationship to a very specialized range of

activities associated with mineral extraction in caves. How representative it

was of the general lifestyles of the prehistoric cavers was left unanswered. In

an attempt to address this question, Watson and her colleagues initiated

additional work in the Big Bend area of the Green River in what was to

become known as the Shell Mound Archaeological Project.

Located roughly 60 km down stream from Mammoth Cave, the Big Bend

area of the Green River valley is significantly different in topography and has

a greater range of archaeological site types than is found in the Mammoth

Cave area. Here the floodplains are expansive, over 2 km (1.2 mi) wide in

places. The area and sections of the river down stream are possibly best

known archaeologically for the "Shell Mound Archaic" sites (e.g., Indian Knoll,

Carlston Annis, and Read) that were first investigated by C. B. Moore (1916),

and extensively excavated by Webb and Haag (Webb 1950a, 1950b, 1974; Webb

and Haag 1939, 1940, 1947). More recent excavations directed by Marquardt

and Watson (1983a, 1983b) have added archaeobotanical information to the

faunal and lithic data gained from these earlier investigations.

While shell-midden sites are common in the Big Bend and lower

stretches of the Green River, they are exceedingly scarce upstream of the Big

Bend area. Excavations at the shell-midden sites have contributed greatly to

the views currently held by archaeologists regarding the social organization,

exchange systems, and subsistence practices of the mid-southeast during the

late Middle and Late Archaic periods (Jefferies 1990b; Rolingson 1967; Smith

1986; Steponaitis 1986; Watson 1985; Winters 1968, 1969; Thieme 1991).

Investigations at Indian Knoll (15 Oh 2) under the direction of Webb in

1939 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) produced 1178

burials and over 55,000 artifacts (Webb 1974:122, 137). Indian Knoll had been

previously dug into by C. B Moore in 1915, when he removed a reported 298

human skeletons (Moore 1916). Excavations by Webb at the site also recovered

Middle Archaic through Mississippian period artifacts. Projectile point types

included Kirk (Early Archaic), Big Sandy II/Raddatz (Middle Archaic),

Matanzas, Elk River Stemmed, and Ledbetter Stemmed (Late Archaic), and

Early Woodland stemmed points (Rolingson 1967; Webb 1974; Watson 1985;

Justice 1987). Pottery collected primarily in the upper 45 cm (1.5 ft) of the site


included shell-tempered types (Mississippi Plain, Bell Plain, McKee Island

Cord Marked, Kimmswick Fabric Impressed), limestone-tempered types (Rough

River Simple Stamped), and grog-tempered types (Mulberry Creek Cord

Marked) (Haag 1974). The major occupation of the site has been defined by

Rolingson (1967) as the Indian Knoll phase, and has been roughly dated to

between 2500 and 1500 B.C. based on artifact typological comparisons and

radiocarbon dating (Rolingson 1967; Watson 1985).

Faunal materials collected at the Indian Knoll site included deer (97.6%

of mammal bone), dog, raccoon, opossum, groundhog, squirrel, beaver, fox,

bear, bobcat, rabbit, skunk, mink, chipmunk, turkey (83.4% of bird bone),

goose, turkey vulture, sandhill crane, box turtle, aquatic turtle, drum, and

buffalo fish (Webb 1974:334-339). Tools and debris collected by Webb that

were indicative of activities performed at the site included fire-cracked rock

(hot-rock cooking), hoes (digging, gardening?), pestles, nutting stones and

charred nutshells (nut processing), axes (tree felling), fishhooks (fishing),

freshwater gastropod and bivalve shells (shellfish collecting), hammerstones,

cores, flakers, flakes lithicc tool production), hafted scrapers (hide preparation),

and projectile points, atlatl hooks, atlatl weights, and faunal debris (hunting).

WPA work at Carlston (Carlson) Annis Mound (15 Bt 5) in 1939 under

the direction of Webb produced 390 burials and a collection of artifacts very

similar to Indian Knoll in overall composition (Webb 1950a; Justice 1987).

Projectile point types included Big Sandy II/Raddatz, Saratoga, Ledbetter,


Adena, and Mississippian Triangular. Woodland and Mississippian pottery

were also recovered. Other common artifact types included fire-cracked rock,

hoes, pestles, nutting stones, axes, fishhooks, gorges, freshwater gastropod

shells, bivalve shells, hammerstones, cores, flakers, flakes, hafted scrapers,

atlatl hooks, and atlatl weights. Faunal materials were dominated by deer

with raccoon, fish, bird, and box turtle also present.

As part of the Shell Mound Archaeological Project, Marquardt and

Watson directed excavations at Indian Knoll (15 Oh 2), Carlston Annis shell

mound (15 Bt 5), and Bowles shell mound (15 Oh 13). Marquardt and

Watson's and their colleagues' work (Crawford 1972; Marquardt and Watson

1983a, 1983b; Stein 1982) at Carlston Annis demonstrated that the shell

mound had been covered by a "shell-free midden" of cultural origin. Both were

accretional deposits resulting from the accumulation of soil and plant and

animal residues transported to the sites by the human occupants (Stein 1982).

Dating of hearths and charcoal levels from various levels in the site indicated

an occupation spanning roughly 3400 to 1350 B.C. within the shell midden

zone (Levels 5 through 20) (Marquardt and Watson 1983a, 1983b). Within this

shell midden layer the most common shellfish species were inhabitants of

riffle/run, shallow water environments (Marquardt and Watson 1983a:120).

Of greatest importance, the excavations at Carlston Annis revealed a

plant exploitation pattern different from that found at Salts and Mammoth

Cave. Instead of a plant assemblage dominated by domesticates, the faunal

material consisted primarily of hickory nuts (90%) with minor amounts of

acorn, black walnut, and seeds of blackberry (Rubus sp.), grape (Vitis sp.),

honey locust (Gleditsia triancanthos L.), knotweed (Polygonum sp.), persimmon

(Diospyros virginiana), elderberry (Sambucus sp.), foxtail-grass (Setaria sp.),

panic-grass (Panicum sp.), wild plum (Prunus sp.), cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.),

cleavers (Galium sp.), hazelnut (Corylus sp.), and possible sunflower

(Helianthus annuus L.) rounding out the rest of the assemblage (Crawford

1982). Fragments of squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) rind were also recovered.

This, in addition to the large quantity of fish and mussel shell remains

contained in the shell mound, indicates that the site was occupied primarily

during the summer and early fall (Marquardt and Watson 1983b:330).

Essentially the same plant species in roughly the same proportions were

recovered by Marquardt and Watson at the nearby Bowles site although only

26 taxa were represented. Several plant species not found at Carlston Annis

were recovered from the site: hackberry (Celtis sp.), wild bean (Strophostyles

sp.), wild rice (Zizania aquatica L.), purslane (Portulaca sp.), and tickclover

(Desmodium sp.). Again, a summer and early fall occupation of the site

appears to be indicated.

The primary purpose of discussing the nature of the shell midden sites

in the Big Bend area at this juncture is to point out the differences in the

artifact assemblages recovered from these shell mound sites located just 60 km

(37 mi) down river from those sites located near Mammoth Cave. The


importance of these differences will receive greater attention later in the

dissertation during the discussion concerning the overall settlement pattern of

the area and the influence seasonality and scheduling of economic tasks had

in the development of these apparent patterns. For the moment, let us return

to the history of archaeological investigations in the study area proper.

Two instances of limited excavations were carried out in Mammoth Cave

(MACA-215) at roughly the same time Watson was pursuing her work in Salts

Cave. The first of these was conducted in 1967. These investigations were

associated with the bat research of biologist Dr. John S. Hall of Albright

College. Dr. Hall was accompanied by National Park Service Archeologist

George R. Fischer during three days of excavations in April, 1967, in the Chief

City section of Broadway passage in order to recover bat bones. During the

excavations prehistoric sandals and other textile fragments were recovered.

The other instance of excavations in Mammoth Cave (MACA-215)

occurred in 1968. According to field notes and correspondence on file at the

Southeast Archeological Center (Accession #654), human burial remains were

unearthed by workers of Gray Construction Company on September 18 while

relocating the trail near the cave entrance. Park Service Archeologist George

R. Fischer arrived at the site on September 20 to examine the find. According

to Fischer's field notes, the remains appeared to be a badly disturbed single

primary burial that had probably been disturbed by previous trail

constructions. The remains included ribs, long bones, vertebrae, and