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Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri – Volume V: Excavations at the Berhorst and Big Branch Fan Sites.



Data Recovery at Berhorst siteData recovery investigations conducted at the Berhorst site (23LE174) documented an early Late Woodland component and at least two Middle Archaic components. Historic materials were also recovered from a feature interpreted as a recent trench. Archaeologists focused on the buried deposits in two separate locations within the site. Two main hand-excavated blocks were dug. Block A sampled the more shallow deposits situated on the top of the alluvial fan, on which the site is situated. Block B sampled the deeper deposits identified at the northern portion of the site.

An early Late Woodland component, with net-impressed ceramic vessels, was documented in Block A (circa cal. A.D. 780). This component appears to represent a series of short-term occupations. The site was likely reused a number of times during this subperiod. Ceramics and a radiocarbon date place this occupation within the early portion of the Late Woodland subperiod. Regionally, this occupation appears to be related to the South Branch phase.

The Middle and Lower Components in Block B represent Middle Archaic occupations. Two main activity areas (possibly general knapping area) represented by the relatively higher flake counts and associated cores and tools were suggested for the Middle Component in Block B. Surface hearths may have been located in close proximity to these activity areas. It is unknown if the two activity areas represent the same occupation of the site or separate visits to the site. A short-term occupation is suggested. No diagnostic artifacts were recovered from this component; however, a radiocarbon date indicates a Middle Archaic affiliation. The date is later in the Middle Archaic subperiod than the Lower Component.

The Lower Component in Block B appears to represent a single occupation, short term residential site. Several activity areas were defined within the larger site context. A Middle Archaic side-notched hafted biface and three radiocarbon dates place this occupation within the middle portion of the Middle Archaic subperiod (circa 5000 cal. B.C.).

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Data recoveryData recovery investigations conducted at the Big Branch Fan site (23CK302) documented a mixed Early/Middle to Late Woodland zone and evidence for several Late Archaic to terminal Late Archaic occupations. The excavations were focused on two hand-excavated blocks. Block A sampled deep, stratified Late Archaic-terminal Late Archaic and shallow Woodland deposits.  Block B sampled a shallow Woodland zone that overlain a Late Archaic zone. A low density of historic artifacts was also recovered from the plow zone at the site.

The data from the Woodland zone in both blocks indicate that groups were repeatedly utilizing this site throughout the Early through Late Woodland subperiods. Early through Late Woodland pottery (a mixture of cordmarked, smoothed-over cordmarked, and plain exterior sherds), as well as a dispersed pattern of lithic materials, indicated recurring short-term use, likely for logistical purposes. Temporally diagnostic artifacts and radiocarbon dating of the Late Archaic deposits at the Big Branch Fan site fall within, and slightly before, the terminal Late Archaic period in the region (circa cal. 1400–900 B.C.). The data from the Late Archaic zone in Block B indicate repeated and mixed use during these subperiods, as well as some possible mixing with Early Woodland deposits. This is apparently the result of a stable land surface at that location throughout the Late Archaic subperiod through the Woodland period.arrowheads

Different geomorphological evidence indicated that Block A was closer to a paleochannel of a stream. Radiocarbon dating of the components in Block A confirmed that the deeper Late Archaic 2 component occurred on a land surface that was stable from at least circa 1870 to 1270 cal. B.C. The Late Archaic 1 component data further indicate that sometime after 1270 cal. B.C. and before approximately 675 cal. B.C., at least 50–70 cm of sediment were deposited over that portion of the site. When the Block A component data (spatial, refit, micro-wear, etc.) are taken together, they are suggestive of a pattern of short-term activities occurring at the site during multiple terminal Late Archaic occupations.

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