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Crittenden County Rockshelter Investigation

Middle to Late Archaic period points.In 2005, KAS archaeologists investigated a small rockshelter located in Crittenden County.  Much to their surprise, they learned that it had been periodically occupied for more than 12,000 years.
The earliest inhabitants of Kentucky are called Paleoindians.  Two Beaver Lake-type spear points testify to their use of this site, probably as a short-term camp site.  Later Early Archaic hunters and gatherers also camped in this same spot.  Points dating to this time period (ca. 8,000 to 6,000 B.C.) include the Kirk Corner Notched, Hardin Barbed and LeCroy types.  Kirk Stemmed points from the site likely date to the Middle Archaic period (ca. 6,000 to 4,000 B.C.).

During the Late Archaic period (ca. 4,000 to 1,000 B.C.), the site was a small workshop for making stone tools.  In addition to the flint chips and stone hammers usually found at these sites, grinding stones were found adjacent to a small hearth.  The presence of the grinding stones indicates that plants were being processed at the site.  Small soil samples collected from the site contained hickory nutshell and marshelder seeds.

After the Late Archaic, the site was not used again until the Late Woodland period (ca. A.D. 500 to 1000).  At this time, they processed plant foods in the rockshelter.  Larger quantities of plant remains were recovered from the soil samples retained from the Late Woodland deposits.  In addition to nuts, Late Woodland groups consumed sunflowers and goosefoot that they grew in nearby gardens, and ate wild grapes and other fruits.  The last groups to camp at the site did so during the Mississippi period (after ca. A.D. 1000).  They may have used the site as a hunting camp.


Last Updated 5/19/2008