Heritage, Volume 11, Number 2, Spring 1993 Page: 18
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Some of the representative artifacts found at the Shelby Brooks Cave and Caldwell Cave #1 in Culberson
County are pictured above : a) rabbit stick; b) rhythm stick; c) fish-tail sandal; d) net bag; e) unidentified
dart point; f) El Paso Polychrome sherd; g) Chupadero Black-on-White sherd; h) atlatl; i) broken reed arrow
shaft with wood bunt foreshaft. Photograph by Carole Medlar.
and cultural materials were scattered over
the surface. According to a note found in a
tin can among the scattered debris, the
"gold hunters" had mistakenly disturbed a
human burial. Jackson screened this disturbed
material to recover anything the
previous diggers may have missed.
The artifacts that were recovered from
this site include stone, fiber, ceramic, and
wood materials. The stone artifacts are
dominated by groundstone manos and
metates. Two dart points and a single arrowpoint
were found, as were several indistinct
pieces of worked chert. Two
grinding slabs, both of which had shallow
depressions, and six manos were recovered.
The fiber artifacts include nets, mats,
basket fragments, and sandals, as well as
numerous miscellaneous pieces of cords
and knotted fibers. An interesting artifact
of fiber is a large net, estimated by Jackson
to be 18 feet long, which was rolled onto six
sticks. This type of net was apparently used
for hunting by stretching it out and propping
it up with the sticks so that it is freestanding.
The hunting quarry would then
be driven into the net and killed. The mats
were constructed in a variety of ways and
vary in size. The basket fragments were also
made in several ways using different mate
rials, but some of the fragments could be
identified as to a particular use. Four fragments,
probably representing at least two
different baskets, were likely used for the
parching of seeds. One of the most distinctive
groups of artifacts recovered from this
site was the sandals. All are of the "fishtail"
type, so-called because of the distinctive
shape of the heel. Though they do
range somewhat in size, the basic manufacturing
technique used is the same, and all
appear to have been made from the leaves
of the narrow-leaf yucca. In fact, all of the
materials used for these fibrous artifacts
seem to be those that are available in the
immediate area today.
Ceramics from this site were very few.
Four sherds were recovered, three of which
were brownwares. The other one was of an
unidentified corrugated type.
Digging sticks and rabbit sticks make up
the bulk of the wooden artifacts. Also included
were dart and arrow shafts and
foreshafts, fire boards and drills, an atlatl
(or throwing stick), and several fragments
of rhythm sticks. The rabbit sticks are all
curved and incised along both faces. These
were, as the name suggests, likely used for
clubbing, and/or throwing at small game
animals. Digging sticks, made eitherpointed
or wedged at one end, were probably used
for several purposes but most notably for
the prying and digging up of roots and other
food resources from the ground. Both of
these artifact types were made of hardwood.
The dart and arrow shafts and
foreshafts are all made of either hardwood
or reeds. All are well-preserved and some
still retain evidence of sinew wrapping for
hafting of the foreshaft or feathers, nocked
ends for use with the atlatl or bow, and two
are still hafted, one with wood foreshaft
and reed shaft, and the other with a reed
shaft and wood bunt foreshaft for stunning
rather than penetration of the game. The
rhythm sticks, also of hardwood, are
notched at fairly regular intervals along
one face of the stick. The opposite face has
been smoothed flat. They have been interpreted
through ethnographic comparison
as having been used with a bone or wooden
objects as a sound board.
Only a single round mortar hole, located
outside the cave a short distance above the
entrance, was noted at the site by Jackson.
No features such as hearths or pits were
noted during these excavations; however,
several human burials were recovered.
These included one burial in which two
individuals were interred. There was no
intervening sediment between the two,
just a large mat laid on top of the lower one,
indicating that they were likely buried at
the same time.
Caldwell Cave #1 is a large sinkhole cave
on the western-facing slopes of the Rustler
Hills. The interior of the cave runs northnorthwest
from the entrance for 100 feet and
opens to a maximum width of 121 feet at a
point 65 feet from the front of the cave.
There was no evidence of occupation beyond
this point. One area of excavation was
opened against the back wall; however, no
artifacts were recovered. The central area of
the cave was dominated by a large midden
deposit 50 feet wide. It was in this deposit
that Jackson concentrated his excavations.
Among the artifacts recovered from the
surface of the cave and the excavated central
midden deposit were those made of
stone, fiber, ceramic, and wood. Little of
this material has been recently analyzed
either for technique of manufacture or for
raw materials used, but the range of materials
represented is very comparable to that
from Shelby Brooks Cave. The stone artifacts
include projectile points, various
worked pieces of chert, and several groundstone
artifacts, including manos, metates,
and a single pestle.
18 HERITAGE * SPRING 1993
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 11, Number 2, Spring 1993, periodical, Spring 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46808/m1/18/: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.