TxDOT Special Publication 1 (2015): Peering Through the Sands of Time

TxDOT Special Publication 1 (2015) – Article 1

Peering Through the Sands of Time: The Archeology of the Caddo at the Kitchen Branch Site (41CP220) in East Texas

By: Mason D. Miller, M.A., Timothy K., Perttula, Ph.D., and Rachel J. Feit, M.A. with Contributions from Robert Z. Selden, Jr., Ph.D. and Chase Earles


Beginning in 2004, archeologists working on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation conducted several phases of investigations at the Kitchen Branch site (41CP220) in northeast Texas’ Camp County. The Kitchen Branch site, situated on the northern bank of the Kitchen Branch of Prairie Creek (the site’s namesake), was located within the footprint of a proposed bridge slated for construction during expansion of FM 557 and would (within the expansion area) be destroyed as a result. For compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended) and the Antiquities Code of Texas (see sidebar on Page 7), those impacted areas were investigated and excavated in detail prior to bridge construction. While the site contained evidence of occupations that ranged from among the earliest humans in the New World through the 20th century, researchers focused on the remnants of a single-family home site attributed to the later phases of Caddo native history, the peoples who dominated the region of northeast Texas, eastern Oklahoma, northwest Louisiana, and western Arkansas from A.D. 800 through the age of European contact.

Initial excavations were conducted by Coastal Environments and Archeological and Environmental Consultants, LLC in 2004 under the direction of David B. Kelley (Coastal) and Timothy K. Perttula (AEC). Subsequent, larger-scale data recovery excavations were completed by Hicks & Company Environmental, Archeological and Planning Consultants (Hicks & Co) and AEC under the direction of James W. Karbula (Hicks & Co) and Timothy K. Perttula (AEC). Finally, analysis and final report preparation was completed by AmaTerra Environmental Inc. (AmaTerra) and AEC with Mason Miller serving as the Co-Principal Investigator with Timothy K. Perttula. Through the course of investigations and analysis, archeologists documented some 236 prehistoric features and collected roughly 20,000 artifacts, shedding light on a lesser-known period of Caddo culture in this particular area.

The results of this extensive investigation and analysis have been exhaustively discussed in the excavation’s final report entitled Archeological Investigations at the Kitchen Branch (41CP220), B.J. Horton (41CP20), and Keering (41CP21) Sites, which is publicly available through your local library. The reader is encouraged to read a copy of this work to dig deeply into the analysis and detail of the investigations and interpretations from the site. It is important that the archeological excavations, artifact analysis, and the preparation of a final report of the findings from the work at the Kitchen Branch site, provide a public benefit. We recognize that with respect to the cultural resource management investigations that were completed at the Kitchen Branch site, in accordance with both federal and state historic preservation laws (see sidebar), a public outreach component is warranted to, according to Lipe and Sebastian “ensure that the nation [or the state] could benefit, over the long-term future, from the active preservation and management of the country’s heritage of archeological and historical properties.” This electronic document represents just that: an opportunity to learn about this site in an approachable, interesting manner. In the next chapter, this electronic report will cover the basics of Caddo native history and culture, while focusing on the Titus phase in this region. From there, discussion will turn to the site excavations themselves, providing the reader with general summaries of the work conducted, the artifacts and features observed and analyzed, and general site interpretations.

Next, this report will focus on Caddo ceramic traditions, from manufacture to form and style before finally turning to the modern recreation of Titus phase ceramics found at the site by a Caddo potter from Oklahoma. From interactive images (be sure to tap away as you read and explore), photo galleries, and three-dimensional models you can explore, the authors hope that this opens up new avenues of learning about this site, the archeologist’s science, and the human history and culture preserved in the sands on this northeast Texas knoll.

Apple Computer Version: Link to full Mac .pdf version. (fully interactive)

PC Computer Version: Link to full PC .pdf version.

Apple iBooks eReader version. (fully interactive)

Android tablet/phone eReaders with Google Play accounts.

Publisher’s note: Please note this article is copyright by TxDOT.

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