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Delaware County

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Delaware County, Oklahoma

Cooper Sites I and V, Dl-33 and Dl-49

Pottery from Dl-33 with zone decorations

Part of a Hopewell-like pot from Dl-33

The Hopewell culture dating from around 2,000 to around 1,400 years ago produced some of the most impressive mounds found in North America. These people of the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys formed extensive trade networks with groups throughout most of North America. Obsidian from the Rocky Mountains, shells from the Florida coasts, and copper from the Great Lakes have all been found at Hopewell sites. Log-lined tombs with elaborate grave goods contained the burials of important people in the community. Mounds covered the tombs and sometimes elaborate earthworks surrounded the mounds. The Hopewell people cultivated crops, mostly crops domesticated from North American wild plants like sunflower. At the very end of the Hopewell period, corn from Mexico may have begun to replace the native domesticates.

Archaeologists recognize Hopewell sites based on the types of materials found at the sites including a distinctive pottery with decorations in bands surrounding the vessels. The westernmost extension of the Hopewell culture is found near Kansas City and is known to archaeologists as Kansas City Hopewell.

Two sites in Delaware County near the Neosho River and Honey Creek show remarkable similarities to the Kansas City Hopewell sites. The pottery found at Dl-33 and Dl-49 looks very much like Hopewell pottery found at the Kansas City sites. Additionally, the spearpoints found at the site are very similar to the points of those same sites. A clay figurine, similar to others from the Kansas City area, was also found.

Rim sherds recovered from Dl-49

Rim sherds recovered from Dl-49

WPA drawing of figurine recovered from Delaware County site. Photograph courtesy of Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma.

Archaeologists believe these two sites were occupied by people migrating from the Kansas City area and bringing with them their traditional pottery and point styles. Unfortunately, the sites are now under the waters of the Grand Lake o' the Cherokees and are not available for further excavation. Any further knowledge we learn about these Oklahoma Hopewellians will have to come from research on the small collections left from 1930's excavations or, perhaps, the discovery of other similar sites.

Occasionally, pottery sherds like those seen above are found on other archaeological sites in northern Oklahoma. They may be traded from sites like Cooper I and V or they may also represent the migration of Hopewell people to other parts of Oklahoma. We know that Hopewell culture spread across eastern North American; only future research will answer questions about the influence of Hopewell culture in Oklahoma.

For further reading:

Prehistory of Oklahoma, edited by Robert E. Bell, Academic Press, 1984

On the web:



Number of Prehistoric Sites in Delaware County Identified to Time Period

Chart showing number of prehistoric sites in Delaware County



Paleo = ?-8,000 BP / Archaic = 8,000-2,000 BP / Woodland = 2,000-1,000 BP / Village 1000-500 BP
BP (before present)


graphic decoration

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