Paoli Phase
A.D. 900-1250

Burned Corn Cobs on House Floor

Burned Corn Cobs on Floor of Paoli Phase House Excavation

The Redbed Variant consists of the Paoli and Washita River phases in the east and Custer and Turkey Creek phases in the west. The people who occupied this area in the late prehistoric period are ancestral to the modern-day Wichita.

Paoli Phase people occupied south-central Oklahoma along the Washita and Canadian Rivers from A.D. 900-1250. They lived in small villages and farmed corn, beans, and squash. Other important crops included a now extinct domesticated oil-rich seed known as marshelder (this plant survives as a wild plant with a much smaller seed and can be found in disturbed, damp soils). The first evidence of tobacco cultivation in Oklahoma was discovered in a charred tobacco seed from a Paoli Phase site.

A diverse diet also included deer, rabbits, turkey, fish, and mussels. These animals were abundant in the prairies and rivers near Paoli Phase villages. Later, bison became more important and apparently more abundant.

Houses of the Paoli Phase people were about 15' X 20' and rectangular. Four center posts held up a grass thatch roof.
Smaller posts formed walls covered with grass thatch. An extended entryway faced east or southeast. Various sized and shaped pits, found outside of houses, were used for cooking, storage and, later, trash disposal.
Paoli Phase pottery developed from the local Woodland pottery. It was cordmarked and grit tempered. Large pots with conical bases were likely used for cooking. Flat-bottomed pots probably were for grain storage


Dart points were common in the early Paoli Phase. Side-notched and corner-notched arrow points like these became more common through time.    

Stone tools were made from local cherts; trade with distant groups was not common in the Paoli Phase.

Through time, the success of the Paoli Phase people led to population increases. It also seems likely that the climate in the area was becoming drier which increased the prairie areas and brought more bison. The Paoli Phase people adapted to these changing conditions; their culture developed into the Washita River Phase.

Washita River Phase