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PACKARD SITE

Archaeological field work at the Packard Site (34MY66), located a terrace overlooking the Grand River in Mayes County, Oklahoma, revealed evidence for repeated group occupation. The site's position in the environmental landscape is at the Plains/Woodland biota border. The National Park Service provided funds for excavations in 1962 and 1963, prior to the construction of the Lake Hudson reservoir. Principal investigator and dig leader Don G. Wyckoff was particularly surprised to discover two prehistoric campsites overlying each other and dating between 10,000 to 9,500 years ago. The material remains left by these early peoples provided archaeologists with some of the first clues to human behavior following the Ice Age.

Foragers who inhabited the lower campsite manufactured chipped-stone bifaces, knives, and spear points from locally available cherts. These activities were centered around a hearth that radiocarbon dated to 9,800 years ago. The style of points made at the site is very similar to the Agate Basin style. Agate Basin-style spear points are more commonly associated with Western Plains bison hunters. Finding this point style in eastern Oklahoma suggested a prairie-savanna adaptation rather than just a focus on bison. Another astonishing find from this older campsite was a side-notched spear point. Side-notched points are mainly uncovered with material remains that date 500 to 1,000 years later than the Packard Site. This implies an earlier experimentation with hafting technologies that became prevalent later.

Above the older campsite, chipped-stone debris left from later inhabitants indicated stone tool construction as one of the camp's main activities. The style of spear points made by these foragers is termed Dalton. The majority of Dalton points were discovered in the eastern United States, indicating a woodland adaptation. However, similar spear points are sometimes found on the western plains, suggesting occasional bison hunting by these foragers. A radiocarbon date from the lower portion of the Dalton level minimally places their occupation at around 9,600 years ago.

SEE ALSO: PALEOENVIRONMENT, PRECONTACT HUNTING PATTERNS, PREHISTORIC NATIVE PEOPLES.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Don G. Wyckoff, "Accelerator Dates and Chronology at the Packard Site, Oklahoma," Current Research in the Pleistocene 6 (1989). Don G. Wyckoff, The Cultural Sequence at the Packard Site, Mayes County, Oklahoma, Archaeological Site Report 2, Oklahoma River Basin Survey Project (Norman: University of Oklahoma Research Institute, 1964). Don G. Wyckoff, "The Packard Complex: Early Archaic, Pre-Dalton Occupations on the Prairie-Woodlands Border," Southeastern Archaeology 4 (Summer 1985).

Stance Hurst

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