The Owl Cave Site
Woodward Engraved pottery sherds from
Owl Cave (photo courtesy Oklahoma Anthropological Society)
Owl Cave, near Sallisaw Creek in Adair County, is
a 70' x 20' cave which sheltered people for over a thousand years.
The site came to the attention of archaeologists in 1963 when the
cave's landowner discovered pothunters digging in the cave and disturbing
human burials there. Current
laws in the state of Oklahoma make this activity illegal, but
at the time the only recourse was to run the diggers off the property.
Salvage excavations at the site by Oklahoma
Anthropological Society volunteers revealed fairly extensive
disturbance by pothunters. Signs of centuries of human habitation
had been left in 18" - 22" of soil. Recovered artifacts
included projectile points which may date as early as the Archaic
period and pottery which may relate to the Mississippian period
(for a Flash presentation of the time periods in Oklahoma's prehistory,
click here). Pottery sherds
like those shown above all appear to have come from one vessel and
show design elements like the apparent bird claw in the sherd in
the upper right hand part of the photograph.
Unfortunately, the pothunter's disturbance of the
context resulted in the loss of most of the important information
which could have been obtained from this intriguing site. A fuller
history of the Owl Cave site will never be written because of the
actions of those few trespassers. A Flash movie about archaeological
context can be viewed by clicking here.
Projectile points from Owl Cave (photo
courtesy Oklahoma Anthropological Society)
For further reading:"Test Excavation in Owl Cave"
by Sherman P. Lawton in Bulletin of the Oklahoma Anthropological
Society, Vol. XII, 1963.
Number of Prehistoric Sites in Adair
County Identified to Time Period