The Little Paint Site: A Classic Toyah Camp on the South Llano River, Kimble County, Texas

Stephen M. Carpenter, Kevin A. Miller, Charles D. Frederick, Leslie G. Cecil, Mercedes C. Cody, Abby Peyton

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On behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted testing and data recovery investigations at the Little Paint site (41KM226), a prehistoric multi-component site in the US 377 right-of-way along the South Llano River in Kimble County, Texas. While the site revealed Archaic and Late Prehistoric components, the earlier components were stratigraphically intermixed. Consequently, data recovery focused almost entirely on a discrete Toyah component, which, based on earlier test excavations conducted in August and September 2006, had previously been determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and as a State Archeological Landmark. SWCA performed the investigations under Texas Antiquities Permits 4184 and 4318. Kevin A. Miller served as Principal Investigator.

The excavations recovered approximately 102 m2 of a stratigraphically-discrete Toyah component consisting of rock-lined hearths, Perdiz points, Cliffton points, a bird-bone bead, bone-tempered ceramics, bifaces, scrapers (notably end scrapers on blade-flakes), various informal lithic tools, drills, awls, debitage, and faunal remains. Based on the assemblage, the site is interpreted as a Toyah basecamp as indicated by a diversity of tool forms and site furniture. The component has good integrity, is vertically and horizontally discrete, and contains a substantial amount of archaeological materials. The suite of 16 radiometric dates indicates intermittent Toyah occupations between 240 and 570 years ago, a time range that is generally consistent with recognized span of the Toyah assemblage. The archaeological assemblage and site structure, however, suggests a possible single Toyah occupation.

While not a focal point of the data recovery investigations, the excavations also recovered mixed Archaic components below the Toyah component. Artifacts include diagnostic point styles that indicate Late Archaic to early Late Prehistoric occupations, representing 1,000 to 2,000 years of the regional cultural chronology compressed within a thin stratum. Based on the findings, the depositional conditions below the Toyah component, as was previously determined by the testing data, were found to be generally not conducive to the formation of stratigraphic separation of the successive occupations. This compression resulted in intermixing of components and poor integrity. Below the mixed Archaic zone, deeply buried Middle to Early Archaic deposits were identified. These retained a better potential for significant isolable strata, but these deeper deposits were beyond the project impacts and therefore were not the subject of mitigative efforts. The deeper deposits are preserved by avoidance.

As previously determined and further substantiated by the data recovery investigations, the Little Paint site, because of the Toyah component and perhaps earlier deposits, is eligible for National Register of Historic Places listing under Criterion D, 36 CFR 60.4, and eligible for State Archeological Landmark designation under Criteria 1 and 2 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Antiquities Code of Texas, 13 TAC 26.8. The excavations have mitigated the adverse effects of the US 377 bridge replacement by recovering the vast majority of the Toyah component within the area of potential effect of the roadway undertaking. No further archaeological work is recommended. Portions of the site outside of the right-of-way have not been fully evaluated. The artifacts and records from the project are curated at the Center for Archaeological Studies, Texas State University.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalIndex of Texas Archaeology: Open Access Gray Literature from the Lone Star State
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

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