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Garvin County

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303 reported archeological sites for Garvin County to date

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The Arthur Site

In central Oklahoma from around AD 1250-1450, the Wichita people lived on terraces of the Washita and Canadian rivers in villages of 200 or more people. They farmed corn, beans, squash and other crops in the fertile river valleys. Hunting and fishing provided food, as well, for their growing populations. Archeologists call this time period the Washita River phase and the people are known as Southern Plains Villagers.


Interior storage pit from house at the Arthur site.
The Arthur site, north of Pauls Valley, is an important Washita River phase village. Excavated in 1981 as a salvage operation because of land leveling, the Arthur site revealed much about life in a Wichita village some 700 years ago. These villagers constructed their small, rectangular houses from upright logs woven with a branch, grass and clay mixture known as wattle and daub. Houses had interior storage pits like the one shown in the photograph to the right. The doorways faced east and a fireplace was built in the center of the house. There were probably 20 houses at the Arthur site. One of them is believed to have been a shaman's house; the house had been burned and a burial was found under the floor (most burials in Washita River phase sites occurred in cemeteries near the village). Additionally, in the burned house, a charred seed from an hallucinogenic plant was found leading archeologists to believe the house was associated with the rituals of a shaman.

Wichita villages were spaced every couple of miles along the Washita River during this period. The people of the area traded with other groups to the west and east. However, by the time the Spanish came through Oklahoma in the early 1500's, many of these villages had been abandoned. It is believed that some of these groups moved north and east although some people continued to live in the area. The reasons for this change are not known although climate changes and increased bison herds in the west may have caused migrations of Washita River populations.

For further reading, consult:

"The Arthur Site:Settlement and Subsistence Structure at a Washita River Phase Village" by Robert L. Brooks (University of Oklahoma Oklahoma Archeological Survey, Studies in Oklahoma's Past, No. 15, 1987).

House pattern at the Arthur site.

Washita River Phase House Pattern

Prehistoric Sites in Garvin County Identified to Time Period

Chart of sites by time period.

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


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