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Thomasville Site (23OR190) 

The Thomasville Site was identified during the design process to replace the twin bridges over the Eleven Point River and Middle Fork Creek on Route 99 near the town of Thomasville in Oregon County.  With the east side of the road bounded by the upper reaches of the Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River, all road improvements took place on the west side of the existing highway corridor.  There, MoDOT archaeologists recovered several side-notched White River projectile points, indicating a Middle Archaic period occupation. 

siteThe site is situated on a broad T2 terrace in the Eleven Point River floodplain about 1400 ft (425m) upstream from the confluence of the main forks of the river.  The site likely extends further up and downstream along the terrace beyond the thin strip that was impacted by the project.  Several test units were placed across the project area, followed by mechanical scraping of the entire site area within the project limits.  The only cultural feature identified in these investigations was a rock-lined earth oven.  Several chipped and ground stone tools and debitage were recovered at various depths ranging from the surface of the plowzone to 3 ft. below surface, but no clearly defined stratigraphic horizons were revealed.  These observations, along with the results of the geomorphological study, suggest that the terrace was periodically flooded and cut by meandering river channels, and that it was occupied by various groups of hunter-gatherers for short spells over thousands of years.  They would have been attracted by the diverse resources available in the riverine environment, which contrasts with the wooded upland that covers most of the region.  While the floodplain setting attracted people to the site over many years, periodic flooding and scouring tended to obscure the stratigraphic relationships between the archaeological horizons within the site.  

A noteworthy aspect of the stone tool assemblage is the re-sharpening and re-use that is evident on many of the projectile points.  The region has few sources of high-quality chert for making stone tools, so prehistoric people recycled the tools they had for as long as they were useable.  A single point that was originally fashioned as a spear point might have been reworked into a hafted knife and finally a hide scraper before it was finally discarded.  Besides the Middle Archaic period White River points, a few later point types indicate that the site was reoccupied periodically after the Middle Archaic.  Unfortunately, none of the charcoal samples that were collected were clearly associated with diagnostic artifacts or cultural features.  The only charcoal sample that was processed gave a date range of 2141 to 1753 B.C. (2 sigma calibrated result), which is later than expected for the Middle Archaic but probably correlates with one or more of the later point types. 

This project provided a rare opportunity for professional archaeological and geomorphological investigation of a significant Middle Archaic campsite in Oregon County, where the only previous studies were conducted in Mark Twain National Forest.  The Thomasville site revealed significant information about prehistoric resource utilization and stone tool maintenance behavior in a remote corner of the southern Missouri Ozarks.

A preliminary report, Phase I Cultural Resources Survey for Proposed Improvements to Route 99 and Phase II Evaluation of Site 23OR190, Oregon County, Missouri was produced in 2000.  Analysis and report production on the final investigations is underway. 

 

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