The Zimms Site
Five sites in Roger Mills County represent the only
known remains of an enigmatic group of people who lived in western
Oklahoma from around A.D. 1250 to perhaps as late as A.D. 1450.
This group of sites is known to archeologists as the Zimms complex
after the best-known of the sites, the Zimms site.
When archeologists and volunteers from the Oklahoma
Anthropological Society excavated at the Zimms site, they uncovered
the remains of a structure, probably a house, which differed in
many ways from the houses of other Oklahoma villagers of the same
period. The house was roughly square in outline and about 20 feet
by 20 feet with two large interior posts supporting a thatch roof.
Forty-eight smaller posts set in the ground and covered with clay
and thatch formed the walls. The most striking difference, though,
was a central channel, 6 inches deep and 9 feet wide, running right
through the middle of the house. A raised clay platform lay at one
end of the channel, opposite the entryway into the house.
House pattern excavated at the Zimms
Only a limited number of the kind of farming tools
used by Native American villagers in Oklahoma were found although
groups to both the east and west (in the Texas panhandle) were farming
extensively at the time. The pottery used by Zimms people was usually
undecorated with rounded bases and flared rims. It is known as Quartermaster
Plain after nearby Quartermaster Creek. It, too, is different from
the pottery found to the east and to the west at the same time period.
Quartermaster Plain pottery sherds
from the Zimms site.
Because of the differences in the pottery and house
styles, archaeologists believe the people of the Zimms complex were
independent of the farming groups to the east and the west. Some
archaeologists believe they lived an older lifestyle of hunting
and gathering while other archaeologists believe they were farmers
as were other Plains Villagers of the time.
There are many intriguing questions about the Zimms
complex that remain unanswered. One such question regards the architecture
of the structure excavated at the Zimms site.
A stylized diagram of the floor pattern excavated at Zimms
is shown to the left while an artist's conception of a typical
house in eastern Oklahoma is shown below with a cutaway so
that the interior of the house can be viewed. Archaeologists
are uncertain why the central channel was placed in the Zimms'
house or what the purpose of the platform at the west edge
of the channel was.
If you have an idea what purpose these features might serve,
send us an email and
we'll post your ideas at the bottom of this page.
With further research and educated guesses, we hope to eventually
better understand the Roger Mills county people of the Zimms