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Johnston County

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Johnston County, Oklahoma

The Converse Site, 34JN28

Oklahoma Anthropological Society volunteers excavating at 34JN28

On the edge of the ancient Arbuckle uplift in Johnston County, some of the oldest rock in the central United States is exposed. The mountain-building episodes of the Pennsylvanian which occurred some 500 to 300 million years ago and formed the Arbuckles happened just a moment ago in geological time compared to the antiquity of the granites of Johnston County. They are believed to have formed around 1.4 billion years ago. At the base of one such granite bluff near a clear spring, people have been living for a very brief time, indeed -- somewhere around 6,000 years or so.

During that 6,000 years, the debris of periodic occupations has built up into a mound (known to archeologists as a midden mound) some two to three feet deep. This midden mound is known as the Converse site. Parts of the site were excavated during Oklahoma Anthropological Society digs in 1978, 1979 and 1980.

The first people known to have lived at the site were the Calf Creek people from the Middle Archaic. Their distinctive points were found at the lowest levels of the mound. Later peoples used different projectile points and when the bow and arrow replaced darts and spears, the evidence was left behind in higher levels. When hunting and gathering gave way to the more settled lifestyle of the farmer, this site in Johnston County also was an attractive place to live. Pottery and grinding stones were left behind by the farming peoples. There were likely houses on the site as well although they were not identified during excavations. If they were similar to others in the area, they were probably square with four center posts supporting the roof. A hearth was placed in the center of these houses and a long entryway was oriented to the west or the east.

The material recovered from this excavation has not yet been analyzed by archeologists so there is much more to be learned about the Converse site. The repeated use of this site over a long period of time could offer valuable clues to the ways in which people have adjusted their lives to changing conditions over thousands of years.

Rock feature from Jn-28

Rock feature from 34JN28

For further reading about the geology of south-central Oklahoma, visit the US Geological Survey's webpage about Oklahoma's volcanic past

For further reading about the Converse site: Oklahoma Anthropological Society Newsletter 27(7), "The OAS Spring Dig" by David T. Hughes.

Number of Prehistoric Sites in Johnston County Identified to Time Period

Chart showing prehistoric sites in Johnston County, Oklahoma Identified to 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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