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Sheltered Sites in McDonald County 

testArchaeological investigations were conducted at multiple sheltered sites within proposed expansion corridors of U.S. 71 in southern McDonald County, Missouri.  Three rockshelters (23MD148, 23MD158, and 23MD159) and one cave (23MD147) were to be impacted by expansion of U.S. 71 into a dual divided highway, and two rockshelters (23MD146 and 23MD160) were to be affected by the expansion of an interchange at the junction of U.S. 71 and Missouri 90.  The archaeological investigations were undertaken by the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at Missouri State University under contract with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Phase II investigations determined that rockshelters 23MD158, 23MD159, and 23MD160 were not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of shallow deposits, sparse artifact densities, and an absence of faunal remains and cultural features.  Test excavations at Southview Shelter (23MD146), Henson Shelter (23MD148) and Henson Cave (23MD147) indicated that each contained significant cultural deposits.  Henson Cave and Henson Shelter contained relatively thick (50–65 cm) undisturbed midden deposits with well preserved plant and animal remains, cultural features, and numerous diagnostic artifacts from multiple components.  Southview Shelter lacked the midden deposits and the artifact densities of the other two shelters, but it contained much deeper deposits with multiple Archaic, Woodland, and late prehistoric components.  Southview Shelter appears to have been a temporary field camp or overnight bivouac that was used occasionally over a span of at least 8,000 years.

Henson Cave was occupied multiple times over a span of at least 6,000 years. Use of the cave during the first 5,500 years appears to have been occasional and of relatively short duration.  The primary occupations of Henson Cave, which appear to have been responsible for the formation of the entire midden deposit, occurred during Terminal Prehistoric times and are associated with a Neosho phase component.  Radiocarbon ages indicate site usage during the time span of ca. A.D. 1300–1550.  Diagnostic and other artifacts found at the cave that are typically associated with Neosho components in the southwestern Ozarks include triangular Fresno arrowpoints, shell-tempered Woodward Plain ceramics from flat-bottomed jars and bowls, shell-tempered Neosho Punctate pottery, Harahey knives, end scrapers, sandstone arrow-shaft smoothers, bone rasps, and mussel-shell scrapers.

Henson Cave

Henson Shelter was occupied intermittently over a span of at least 7,000 years. Occupation during the first 6,000 years also appears to have been relatively infrequent and short lived.  The most intensive use of the rockshelter occurred during late prehistoric times.  Occupation of Henson Shelter appears to have been preferred over nearby Henson Cave during Late Woodland and Caddoan Mississippian times.  The opposite appears to have been the rule during the following Terminal Prehistoric period, although Henson Shelter continued to be used on a regular basis by Neosho people.  It is likely that both Henson Cave and Henson Shelter served as cold-weather camps for relatively small groups temporarily segmented from larger sociopolitical units as part of an annual adaptive settlement-subsistence strategy. 

A technical report was produced by CAR on the results of their work, Archaeological Investigations at Six Sheltered Sites in McDonald County, Missouri (2006).







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