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Osage County

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Osage County, Oklahoma

Beaver Creek Sites

Beaver Creek, Osage County

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.

Arrowpoints and sandstone abraders

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 their diet.

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

 


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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