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Caddo Indian Burial Ground & River Walk

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Name: Caddo Indian Memorial
Location: Norman, Arkansas
Date: 6/5/1987 (discovered)
Landscaped by: SMCDC
Owner: City of Norman
Contact: Mary Beth & David Lysobey
Description:  Walking trail and wild flower garden, along the Caddo River,

Notes: Please honor those who are buried here and do not litter.  It is unlawful to disturb graves or to remove artifacts. 

Caddo Indian Burial Ground at Norman, prepared by

Mary Beth Trubitt, Archeological survey, 12/2001

Human burials were exposed accidently during construction of Norman’s sewer treatment plant in October, 1988.  Archeological salvage excavations in the days following, directed by Ann Early of the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Henderson Research Station, identified two burials, a small cluster of residential features, and artifacts dating from the Archaic through Caddo periods.  After discussions between agencies and groups involved, a new location was found for the sewer treatment plant construction, the human bone and associated grave goods were returned to the Caddo Nation for reburial, and the site was covered up for protection.  The site is now a city park in Norman, Arkansas.

Salvage excavations recovered remains of two burials at the Norman site.  Analysis of the human remains by Jerome Rose and James Barnes of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, revealed that Burial 1 was of a young adult (20-25 years), possibly male, while Burial 2 was of a subadult (15-18 years), probably female.  Neither individual showed skeletal pathologies that would point to a cause of death.  Both individuals exhibited characteristics of ancient Native Americans, but the identity of these remains as Caddo Indians was based on the associated cultural material rather than the biological analysis (Rose and Barnes, 1989).  While both graves had been disturbed by construction equipment, the individual in Burial 2 had been buried with two small incised ceramic jars, a large chert biface, and eight novaculite arrowpoints.  Similar artifacts were found with a burial excavated at Standridge (3MN53), a small Caddoan mound center 8 km downstream from Norman, attributed to the Buckville phase (Early, 1988a).  The burials at the Norman site probably date to circa AD 1500.  

imageNear the two burial features, archeologists uncovered evidence of additional features that were mapped but not excavated (Early, 1988b).  Indications of four possible additional graves were found.  Soil stains from several posts were identified that formed part of the circular outline of a structure approximately 16 meters in diameter.  Both circular and rectangular houses and special-purpose structures have been found at other Caddo sites in the region.  A burned area identified as a hearth was associated with the circular building, and a large area of ash and charcoal was tentatively identified as part of a house floor.  A charcoal sample from this deposit was radiocarbon dated to AD 1260-1290.  The few artifacts found with these residential features indicate another occupation at around AD 1250-1350, earlier in time than the burials.  Other artifacts were found at the site, disturbed by the construction activity, that indicate short-term occupation of this locale by groups during the Archaic and Woodland Fourche Maline periods.

Site 3MN386 is located on a low terrace next to the confluence of Huddleston Creek and the Caddo River.  Based on the distribution of chipped stone debris, the original site was at least 1.5 hectares (almost 4 acres) in area, but the full extent of the site was never determined by archeological investigations.  The archeological salvage excavations in 1988 were limited to a small area of 25 x 30 meters where the burials and other features were uncovered.  While artifacts diagnostic of Archaic and Fourche Maline periods were found at the site, the main use of the site was in the Caddo period.  Two Caddo period site occupations between about AD 1250-1500 are inferred based on the materials associated with these features:  an earlier residential use of the site that left the remains of a large circular house with hearth and burned floor; and a later use of the site as a cemetery. 

(Used with permission of author.)

References:

Early, Ann M.  (1988a)  Standridge: Caddoan Settlement in a Mountain Environment.  Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Series No. 29, Fayetteville.

Early, Ann M.  (1988b)  Draft Data Recovery Plan for 3MN386.  Unpublished draft report, Arkansas Archeological Survey, Henderson Research Station, Arkadelphia.

Rose, Jerome C. and James E. Barnes  (1989)  “Bioarcheological Analysis, Norman Sewer Site: 3MN386.”  Unpublished report, Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.  

 

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