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LAWRENCE SITE

Around 1500 B.C. a small group of hunters camped on a terrace along the Verdigris River in northeastern Oklahoma. This rich riverside site provided a variety of game and fish but, it was initially occupied for only short periods. The small band returned to the site repeatedly and by 700 B.C. made the site a base camp and stayed for longer durations to exploit the riverine resources. The people depended primarily on deer supplemented with a variety of small mammals, fish, turtles, and some birds. Projectile points, knives, and scrapers used to hunt and process game were the most prominent tools found at the site. Points were predominantly corner-notched darts used with an atlatl, but the presence of small points toward the end of the occupation indicates the adoption of the bow and arrow. Grinding basins and manos suggest the importance of plant foods. Sites to the east have produced evidence for intensive use of seeds, and some of the plants may have been cultivated. The Lawrence people built rock-lined hearths and rock ovens to cook their food and dug small pits to store food and other materials.

Archaeologists found evidence of houses but have not been able to define their shape or form. Dwellings were probably small, pole-and-brush structures that were rebuilt or refurbished each year when groups returned to the site. Evidence from nearby sites suggests that during the fall and winter these people moved to rock shelters for protection from the cold. These shelters sometimes served as burial locations. Lawrence people traded long distances, up to one hundred miles, for some of the cherts used to make tools. They obtained materials from the Ozark Mountains to the east and from the Florence chert beds to the west near Ponca City, Oklahoma. This group also ground some stone into net weights, gorgets, and other items. In addition, they made bone tools, primarily pointed awls for sewing, but also points and ornaments such as pendants. Lawrence people abandoned the site by 500 B.C., but they continued to live in the area and developed into later Woodland groups.

SEE ALSO: PALEOENVIRONMENT, PRECONTACT AGRICULTURE, PRECONTACT TRADE PATTERNS, PREHISTORIC NATIVE PEOPLES.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jane Baldwin, "The Lawrence Site, NW-6, A Non-Ceramic Site in Nowata County, Oklahoma," Oklahoma Anthropological Society Bulletin 18 (Norman: Oklahoma Anthropological Society, 1969). Robert E. Bell, ed., Prehistory of Oklahoma (Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press, 1984). William L. Neal and Richard R. Drass, "Middle Holocene Archaeology in Northeastern Oklahoma," Oklahoma Anthropological Society Bulletin 47 (Norman: Oklahoma Anthroposlical Society, 1998).

Richard R. Drass

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