Heritage, Summer 2004 Page: 13
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drainages, like the Canadian River and its
tributaries. Portable housing probably
resembled tipis and shows up today as
rings of rocks arranged in large circles.
Archaic foraging continued in the Texas
Panhandle from 8,000 years ago until
about 2,000 years ago. The culture was
typified by large corner-notched spear
points for hunting modern species (in contrast
to Paleo-Indian hunters of extinct
species), exploitation of many diverse
foodstuffs, and an absence of pottery and
the bow-and-arrow. Rock shelters were
occasionally used along with campsites
having hearths and grinding stones. Late
Archaic nomadic bison hunters occupied
rock shelters or open sites without structures
from 3,500 years ago until 2,000
years ago. In fact, rock shelters continued
being used as recently as 1,000 years ago.
The Late Prehistoric or Early Ceramic
period is characterized by four new technologies:
small arrow points, semi-permanent
dwellings, horticulture, and pottery.
In the Southern Plains, this occurs
between AD 500-1100. In the Southern
Plains, the dwellings were pit houses,
which were underground houses usually
containing large central wooden posts and
beams with a thatch roof. These structures
are similar to houses of the Southwest. In
addition, the sites include hearths, inground
storage pits, burials, and
Southwestern ceramics. The ceramics
resemble types from the Middle Pecos
Valley of New Mexico and the Tularosa
Basin of southern New Mexico.
At least two different types of constructed
structures have been identified, in addition
to rock shelters. Both structure types
Opposite: An early village setting. This
page: rock shelter, left, and dugout
Housing technology evolved slowly in the Panhandle, and meeting
the basic need for shelter was not an easy task. As a result, ingenuity
and resourcefulness became essential elements of survival...
were shallow, about 14 inches below the
ground, rectangular in shape, with plastered,
east-facing entryways. One larger
type had about 150 square feet of floor
space while a smaller type was closer to 80
square feet in area. Walls were made from
wattle and daub (mud covering sticks) or
stone rubble that may have had a mud and
stick framework. Some were plastered outside,
similar to adobe structures in the
Southwest, and they may have had plastered
floors. Some structures had vertical
posts averaging four inches in diameter,
perhaps indicating a gabled framework of
roof poles. The larger structures probably
represent habitations while the smaller
may have been used for storage.
About 1,000 years ago, several cultural
events are documented: side-notched
arrow points, shift to a village lifestyle, and
appearance of mobile bison hunters.
Distinct beveled knives and hafted-end
scrapers appear at approximately the same
time and represent evidence of bison hunting.
Some researchers believe the stone
tools were introduced by Athapaskanspeaking
people from the Northwest, who
later became known as Apaches.
Southern Plains villagers, living along
the Canadian River and its tributaries
between AD 1100 and AD 1500, built
semi-subterranean, generally rectangular,
structures with vertical stone foundations,
stick and mud walls, and thatch roofs.
Eastward-extended entryways were common.
The houses tended to be large, with
four central support posts, slab-lined foundations,
floor channels, and raised platforms.
An elevated platform along the
west wall may have functioned similarly to
an altar, and unusual objects were occasionally
recovered from there. Food processing
and food storage areas, tool manufacture
spaces, and spots for hide preparation
are common at village sites.
Foragers probably had a superb understanding
of the resources in their area and
recognized that added efforts, such as
weeding and watering, would increase
their yield. Over years, groups probably
spent more time in the vicinity of these
crops until ultimately, they would not
want to leave for fear of losing the crop to
pests or neighbors. This may explain the
increase in permanent houses associated
with horticulture in the Southern Plains.
There is good evidence for the beginnings
of horticulture in the Southern Plains by
about AD 800. Horticulture provides a
reliable component to a diet, which allows
populations to increase. Instead of small,
mobile bands consisting of extended fami
HERITAGE E SUMMER 2004
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2004, periodical, Summer 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45373/m1/13/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.