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Washita County

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198 reported archeological sites for Washita County to date

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The Duncan Site

Artist's conception of the fortified Duncan site.


Bison bone feature at the Duncan site.

Crushed bison bone in a feature at the Duncan Site

When archeologists excavated this site in the 1980's, they found lots of crushed and broken bison bone and many stone tools used for butchering. Surprisingly, they found very few farming tools although farming was well-established in the Southern Plains by this time. Apparently, farming wasn't a major activity at the Duncan site.

The fine-grained stone used to make their knives, scrapers and arrowheads came from chert quarries 175 miles to the northeast in Kay County, Oklahoma. The Spanish in their trek through Oklahoma and Kansas in a futile search for gold in the 1500's met prosperous farming Wichita groups in the area of the quarries. The Duncan site people may have been Wichita people living out on the short-grass prairies or they may have traded extensively with the Wichita people. Archeologists now believe that trading networks stretched throughout the area. Obsidian and turquoise from the Pueblos of the southwest were also recovered at the Duncan site. Some tools were also made from other exotic cherts from central Texas and elsewhere.

The condition of the bison bones uncovered at Duncan indicate the people there were processing the bison bone heavily to render them for grease. This could be done by crushing and boiling the bones in large pots. Analysis of these bones has also revealed that the bison were probably killed in late summer and early fall.

Archeologists speculate that the Duncan site may have been a trade center where bison, chert and other products were traded among many groups. The traders who were processing bison probably lived in farming villages and only came to Duncan at the end of summer and early fall to conduct business with other groups. It is not yet known why the Duncan people constructed the fortification. Further research on this period in Oklahoma prehistory may some day furnish answers to these intriguing questions.

For further reading, consult:

"The Wheeler Phase and Cultural Continuity in the Southern Plains" by Richard R. Drass and Timothy G. Baugh (Plains Anthropologist No. 42, 1997).

Turquoise beads found at the Duncan site.

Turquoise beads from New Mexico


Prehistoric Sites in Washita 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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