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Walnut Shade Site



Test investigationsThe Walnut Shade Site (23TA708) was identified during the preliminary design to replace the bridge over Bull Creek along US Route 160 in Taney County by the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at Missouri State University, who were under contract with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).  CAR was contracted by MoDOT to excavate this significant site after it was determined that it could not be avoided. 

Based upon recovered prehistoric pottery sherds and projectile points, archaeologists concluded that the site was primarily occupied during the Mississippian period (A.D. 900 – A.D. 1540).  The site provided important information about the Mississippian people and their sustenance and material culture in the Ozarks, as relatively little was known about the Mississippian period in this region.  Guided by a carefully considered research design, CAR archaeologists excavated the entire portion of the area to be impacted by the proposed construction.

The Walnut Shade Site appeared to represent a specialized activity area where acorns and locally grown maize were prepared for storage.  Six prehistoric pit features contained remnants of domesticated plants such as maize, beans, squash, sunflower, and chenopod as well as wild plants such as hickory nut, walnut, grapes, persimmon, and acorn.  The wide variety of botanicals indicated cultivation was most likely occurring on the site, suggesting a long-term occupation.  Radiocarbon dates indicate the site was occupied around A.D. 1250.  The recovered artifacts and radiocarbon dates provided the archaeologists with enough information to infer links with the Caddoan cultural tradition.   

Example of pit featureThe Walnut Shade Site produced important new data regarding plant usage during the Caddoan Mississippian occupation in the Southern Ozarks.  The archaeological investigations produced important information about regional prehistory.  A technical report has been produced by CAR on the results of their investigation, Phase III Investigations at the Walnut Shade Site (23TA708), Taney County, Missouri (2004).

 

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