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Marshall County

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Marshall County, Oklahoma

The Haley's Point Site

Haley's Point excavations

Haley's Point, beginning excavations of Main House area in summer, 1988. Photo courtesy of Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology, Wichita State University

Thirty miles from the confluence of the Washita River with the Red River, a bluff is eroding into Lake Texoma. This tall bluff is the site of many thousands of years of human habitation. It is known as the Haley's Point site.

Near the base of the bluff, spearpoints of hunters from the Pleistocene, when mammoths and other now-extinct animals roamed the North American continent, have been found. Mammoth bones were excavated from the gravels at the base of the bluff. Above this layer is some 15 feet of sandy loam which accumulated during the long period known to archaeologists as the Archaic (8,000 to 2,000 years ago). Halfway through this sandy loam is a thin layer of calcium carbonate which probably accumulated during the long, harsh drought of the Altithermal. The top of the bluff contains 1 1/2 to 2 foot of soil which was plowed at sometime during the 20th century. (View an intereactive movie of Oklahoma's prehistoric timeline here).

For seven seasons during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wichita State University, under a contract from the Corps of Engineers, conducted excavations at Haley's Point. Those excavations pertain to the relatively short time period of the last 1,000 years when Haley's Point was apparently intensively occupied by farming villagers. During excavations, archaeologists uncovered the postmolds of several houses. One style of house is believed to date to around 1,000 years ago and is a square house with four centerposts supporting a grass thatch roof. The walls were also grass-covered smeared over with a layer of wet earth. This house was about 700 square feet and had a central hearth with a smoke hole in the roof above the hearth. This house probably burned after it had been abandoned.

Another house dates to a slightly earlier period, possibly when prehistoric people were moving from a mobile hunting and gathering lifestyle to a more sedentary village life with gardening supplementing their wild game and plant foods. This house is oval, again with four center posts.

The people of Haley's Point had a varied diet consisting of deer and fish (bone fishhooks were recovered in the excavations) along with corn, squash and domesticated sunflower -- charred remains of which were all found in the excavations. They tended their gardens with hoes made from mussel shell hoes hafted to handles. They used bow and arrow to hunt and made pottery from clay gathered locally.

The significance of the Haley's Point site to our understanding of the long prehistory of the Red River area was marked by the addition of the site to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

For further reading:

Haley's Point (34MA15) on the Red River Marshall County, Oklahoma (Area F) by Arthur H. Rohn, Wichita State University Publications in Anthropology No 4, 1998.

Number of Prehistoric Sites in Marshall County Identified to Time Period

Graph of identifed sites in Marshall County


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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