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Latimer County

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The McCutchan-McLaughlin Site

People have occupied this site on the banks of Fourche Maline Creek for at least 3500 years. The first major occupation was during a period in prehistory known to archeologists as the Wister phase, lasting from 1500 - 300 BC. It was a time when people hunted deer with spears, fished and collected mussels and a variety of wild plants including nuts. The second main occupation occurred during a period known as the Fourche Maline phase, a period from 300 BC to AD 800. The most heavily occupied time at the McCutchan-McLaughlin site during the Fourche Maline phase was probably from AD 400 - 800. Although the Fourche Maline phase people lived very much in the way of their Wister phase ancestors, there were two important technological changes that distinguish their time. They began to use pottery for storage and cooking and they hunted with bow and arrow.

Archeologists excavated at McCutchan-McLaughlin in 1976 and 1977 at the request of the landowner. Bank erosion was endangering the site. Artifacts and charred animal bone, seeds and nutshells revealed much about the people who lived at the site. Analysis of burials also revealed many interesting details about their lives and deaths. The nuts, seeds, tubers, fish and game available in the Fourche Maline valley provided a healthy life for the inhabitants of the area. Later groups who depended heavily on a high-starch, maize diet were subject to diseases that did not afflict the McCutchan-McLaughlin people. Likewise, the degenerative diseases like arthritis were not found as frequently here as they were among the later farming groups.

Archeologist carefully excavating ash-filled feature.

Check the Alabama Archaeology site for an explanation of why this archeologist is digging a square hole!

Although the McCutchan-McLaughlin people were healthy, the most common identifiable cause of death among the burials was the result of warfare. Mass burials are observed for these groups where projectile points are found in the bodies. Projectile points which caused the deaths of a single group of nine individuals, mainly women and children, were made of chert found in the Boone formation from north and east of the Arkansas River. The McCutchan McLaughlin people did not use Boone chert for the manufacture of their tools. Thus it is believed that a raiding party from the north surprised the site occupants while most of the younger adult men were away and unable to defend them, and those killed were buried together in a single grave.

McCutchan-McLaughlin has been recognized as a significant site with its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Research continues today on this fascinating site in Latimer County.

For further reading, consult:

Bioarchaeology of the McCutchan-McLaughlin Site by Mary Lucas Powell and Dan Rogers, Oklahoma Archeological Survey Studies in Oklahoma's Past, No. 5, 1980.
"Bone Tool Manufacture and Use by Prepottery Occupants of the McCutchan-McLaughlin Site" by Cherie Clark, Bulletin of the Oklahoma Anthropological Society, Vol. XXIX, 1980.
"Arkansas Valley Caddoan Formative: The Wister and Fourche Maline Phases," by Jerry R. Galm in Prehistory of Oklahoma, Robert E. Bell, ed., Academic Press, 1984.


Bone fish hook manufacturing stages.

Prehistoric Sites in Latimer 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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