Beaver Creek Sites
Looking across Beaver Creek valley.
Beaver Creek is a southward-flowing tributary of the
Arkansas River in western Osage County. People have been living
near it probably since the first people came to Oklahoma over 12,000
years ago. An archaeological survey of the area in 1979 helped expand
our understanding of how people have lived along the creek for the
last 2,000 years of that time.
An archaeological survey consists of walking through
pastures, plowed fields, stream bottomlands and terraces. When the
artifacts from an occupation are found, a systematic walk over the
area determines the extent of the site. Concentrations of artifacts
are noted, and testing with controlled excavations may be done if
the site seems important or if construction, erosion or other activities
might threaten it.
A survey of parts of the Beaver Creek drainage located
46 sites. The earliest of the sites are camps from the beginning
of the Woodland period, around AD 100. Even earlier sites are probably
buried deep beneath thousands of years of wind and water-borne sediments.
The most important game animals of the time were deer. They were
hunted with corner-notched dart points placed in a foreshaft and
fitted into a spear. The points were made of Florence-A
chert which outcrops in nearby areas. This is a period of time
when people began making pottery. There is no evidence that people
had begun tending gardens and growing domesticated crops yet.
The next set of sites, still in the Woodland period
from AD 300 to 800, are small, temporary camps, possibly indicating
a shift to a more mobile lifestyle or a trend toward more permanent
settlements nearer the Arkansas River. During this period, the bow
and arrow began to replace the spear; the arrowpoints were smaller
than the earlier dart points but still have corner notches.
For the late Woodland period (AD 800 to 1250), only
one site was found. It is believed that the trend toward less permanent
settlements in the Beaver Creek area continued through this period.
A large site just north of where Beaver Creek flows into the Arkansas,
dating to this time period, contained grinding stones, pottery and
many arrowpoints. Perhaps small hunting parties left this large
site to visit hunting camps on Beaver Creek.
Artifacts typical of Late
Prehistoric sites on Beaver Creek.
The period after AD 1250 saw a very intensive occupation
of the area. Hunters of this period used small, unnotched
arrowpoints. Diamond-beveled knives and snub-nosed hide scrapers
were common tools. These farming/hunting peoples placed their
settlements on the higher terraces of Beaver Creek and the
Arkansas River, probably to avoid periodic flooding. Bison
and crops like corn, squash and beans formed the basis of
At about the same time, the people of this area began quarrying
Florence-A (see below) chert to work into finished tools which
could be traded to other groups farther west.
|Examples of Florence-A chert. When heated, Florence-A
chert turns pink or red.
Number of Prehistoric Sites in Osage
County Identified to Time Period