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Posted by / 07-Oct-2017 20:13

Postdating check

Prehistoric peoples knew a good spot when they found one. This is how the upper surface of most of the Honey Creek midden looked as it was exposed.

Not much to see but small fire-cracked or "burned" rocks and dark carbon-stained soil.

That and many roots from the oat trees that seemed to thrive growing into the organic-rich midden. An amazing variety of charred plant remains were recovered from soil "matrix" samples collected from the Honey Creek midden.

Archeobotanist Phil Dering processed the samples and identified the small charred fragments by making microscopic comparisons with modern samples at Texas A&M University.

"Hearths" are relatively small circular patterns of cooking rocks that represent individual cooking episodes quite similar to those that resulted in the midden accumulation.

What makes the Honey Creek site (41MS32) extraordinary is not the nature of the site itself, but what was learned from it.

Because the field archeologists carefully weighed samples of the burned rocks making up the midden, the total mass could be calculated –12.5 metric tons or so (about 27,600 pounds). At some sites in the region, individual middens cover several acres and must have a mass of well over a hundred metric tons.

The Honey Creek valley looking southwest; over the ridge in the background is the Llano River.In the foreground archeologists can be seen under the clump of oak trees growing out of a small burned rock midden. Bird's eye view looking south across the Honey Creek excavations.The concrete wall was part of a former goat shed the rancher had purposefully placed atop the well-drained rise created by the burned rock midden.You can read more about earth ovens elsewhere in this website, but consider a few telling numbers from the midden at the Honey Creek site.We can calculate, at least crudely, the number of plant baking episodes it took to form this smallish midden.

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Notice that some clusters are dark colored while others are lighter?

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