Oklahoma digging for prehistoric relics to resume

By KRISTI EATON Published: April 8, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Archaeologists will return to an ancient Native American site in eastern Oklahoma next month to resume excavation, after they discovered a prehistoric building there last October.

Few artifacts have been discovered near the formation — which measures just about 12 feet across — at Spiro Mounds making it difficult for researchers to determine the time period of the building, said Scott Hammerstedt, a researcher at the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey.

“It’s a building. A prehistoric building, a fairly faint one — but one nonetheless,” he said.

Researchers will head back to excavate a handful of other areas during five weeks of fieldwork in May and June, Hammerstedt said.

The formation was one of about 70 that researchers discovered using remote sensing technology. A creek is eroding a handful of them, so the archaeologists with the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey, the Arkansas Archaeological Survey and the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Anthropology will excavate them. The researchers entered into an excavation agreement with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which owns the site, the Oklahoma Historical Society, which manages it, and the Caddo Nation and Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, whose ancestors inhabited the site, for the excavation work. The Corps purchased most of the mound area in the 1960s to create a national archeological park, which never was created, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.

“We’re trying to get tribal members involved in the research team and have them come out and help excavate,” Hammerstedt said. “We’ve been doing public presentations, things like that. That’s what is exciting to us — some of the interaction and communication between archaeologists and the tribes, which isn’t always the case.”