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
Rock feature from 34JN28
For further reading about the geology of south-central Oklahoma,
visit the US Geological Survey's webpage about Oklahoma's
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