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Spiro Mounds site shell engravingOklahoma's Past

Sequoyah County

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Sequoyah County, Oklahoma

The Horton Site

Pottery exposed at the Horton Site

Pottery exposed in excavations at the Horton site.

The Horton site consists of some 20 acres in the Arkansas River valley bottomlands in southern Sequoyah County. Excavations at the site were undertaken in the 1950's when farming exposed burials and again in the 1960's as part of the salvage of archaeological sites in the impoundment area of the Robert S. Kerr Lock and Dam.

Eastern Oklahoma was home to people as far back as 9,500 years ago (see the Packard site in Mayes County). However, about 1,300 years ago, a change from small, independent bands of hunters and gatherers to more organized, affiliated groups with a centralized government occurred. The adoption of farming as a way of life doubtless contributed to this change. The earliest governing center probably occurred at the Harlan Mound site in Cherokee County. Over time, the great Spiro Mounds site supplanted the Harlan site's influence over the area. Farming villages surrounding the mound centers provided labor for the building of the great mounds and food to support the priest-chiefs who lived at the mounds.

The Horton site represents one of the farming villages under the domain of the Spiro Mounds leaders; its location is about 20 miles upstream from Spiro. The site is believed to have been occupied between about A.D. 1300 - 1450 at the end of the Spiro era. The remains of two houses were uncovered during the excavations; one was a rectangular house, the other a circular house. It is possible that these two different house patterns represent a change over time in the kind of house favored by the site's occupants with the rectangular house favored by earlier people and the circular house of a later design.

Careful analysis of the surface collections and excavations at the site also revealed the probable location of some farming plots of the Horton site people. 300 yards west of the circular house pattern, archaeologists noticed the presence of many flakes of a particular stone known as siltstone. This material was favored by the Horton people for use as hoes and the small siltstone flakes probably occurred as gardeners stopped their labors to resharpen their hoes..

Celts from the Horton site

Horton Site arrowpoints

For further reading:

The Horton Site Revisited, 1967 Excavations at Sq-11, Sequoyah County, Oklahoma, Studies in Oklahoma's Past, No. 1, Don G. Wyckoff, Oklahoma Archeological Survey, Norman, 1970.

Number of Prehistoric Sites in Sequoyah County 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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