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Missouri Department of Transportation

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Callaway Farms Site (23CY227)


Callaway Site

Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) archaeologists identified and evaluated the Callaway Farms site in 1995 during the preliminary design process to replace the bridge over Wainwright Ditch and the subsequent realignment of 0.7 mile of MO Route 94.  Cultural features and artifacts were identified approximately 60 cm to 90 cm below the current ground surface.  The cultural deposits are located on a sand ridge that had been subsequently capped by a layer of dense clay and then buried under silt.  The buried sand ridge is situated perpendicular to an abandoned Missouri River channel scar.  In 1999, MoDOT contracted with the Archaeological Research Center of St. Louis (ARC) to excavate the site after it was determined that adverse impacts could not be avoided.

Excavated featuresARC archaeologists delineated 7 large circular structure basins and 114 pits.  The former was unexpected, as evidence of structures of this age have not been found in Missouri, and rarely have been found elsewhere in the Midwest.  Fourteen carbon samples from features throughout the site were submitted for radiocarbon dating.  The resulting dates all greatly overlapped with a range of 975 B.C. to 525 B.C. (1 Sigma calibrated results) with a median calibrated age of 800 B.C.  The Callaway Farms site appears have been occupied at the very end of the Late Archaic Period.

Like the radiocarbon dates, the uniform style of projectile points recovered from the site indicates a single occupation.  These points consisted primarily of medium-sized specimens (4-8 cm long) with broad triangular blades (2.5-4 cm wide), and short expanding stems with convex to straight edge bases. 

The data recovery work at the Callaway Farms site offered a unique opportunity for MoDOT to show the citizens of Missouri the cultural resources work that it conducts.  The site was visually appealing, with its features located on a similar elevation and in recognizable form.  The arrangement of structure basins allowed the visitors to imagine the village that once stood at the site. 

MoDOT built a driveway, parking area, and walkway, (all on a portion of the site that had been prehistorically scoured by a stream) to ensure that the site was broadly accessible.  People in wheelchairs successfully visited the site. 

Projectile Points

MoDOT released information to local public and private schools and the public inviting them to schedule a visit to the site.  MoDOT archaeologists gave 30-minute interpretive talks during the last six weeks of ARC’s data recovery work.  These tours not only described the site and the activities it represents, but also gave the visitors a chance to observe an ongoing archaeological excavation.  About 3,500 people attended scheduled visits to the site, the majority of whom were elementary school students.  In addition, MoDOT estimated that 40-50 unscheduled people visited the site each day because of hearing about the site through the media, seeing the site as they drove by on Route 94, or cycled by on the nearby Katy Trail State Park. 

The Callaway Farms site is significant for it is one of the first sites excavated in Missouri to clearly demonstrate the trend towards permanent settlements by the end of the Late Archaic Period.  The recovered plant remains show that that the inhabitants domesticated a number of starchy and oily seed plants (e.g., maygrass and marshelder) to include in their diet along with wild plants, nuts, fish, and game.  This site has provided evidence that will initiate a reevaluation of our ideas on how people lived approximately 3000 years ago in central Missouri.  In addition, MoDOT had an opportunity to instill sensitivity for history in the future stewards (i.e., school children) of these resources.

A technical report has been produced on the results of the investigation, Data Recovery Investigations at the Callaway Farms Site (23CY227):  A Terminal Late Archaic Village in Southern Callaway County, Missouri (2001).  Articles on the site, “ Callaway Farms Site:  Evidence of a Planed Community During the Terminal Late Archaic Period,” and “The Meaning of Projectile Point Types:  A View from Callaway Farms” were published in the Missouri Archaeological Society Quarterly newsletter (July-September 2006, Vol. 23, No. 3, and January-March 2007, Vol. 24, No. 1, respectively).

Preparing for Site Tour Site Tour



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