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Wombles Site (23PI73)



MoDOT archaeologists identified the Wombles site in the proposed construction easements associated with planned improvements for State Route 79 in Pike County in 1979.  The site is located on a lowland terrace in the Salt River valley near the confluence of the Salt and Mississippi rivers.  Once it was determined that the site could not be avoided, MoDOT contracted with the Luther College Archaeological Research Center to excavate the portion of the site that would be adversely affected by construction activities associated with the highway improvement.

Large-scale excavation of the site was conducted in the summer and of 1980.  Mechanical stripping of the plowzone produced diagnostic artifacts associated with the late Middle Woodland through early Late Woodland periods and revealed 8 cultural features.  The features consist of: 3 shallow basins, 1 medium depth basin, 2 large basins with irregular-shaped profiles, and 2 deep pits with flat bottoms.  These features were all situated within a 15 meter radius of each other.  Features of similar form clustered together.  Interpreted functions of these features include cooking facilities, storage facilities, and refuge-disposal pits.  No evidence of structures was identified during the excavation. 


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The ceramic assemblage recovered from the Wombles site consists of 293 sherds, which are interpreted as representing a minimum of 62 vessels (53 based upon body sherds & 9 based upon rim sherds).  The vessels’ paste was all tempered with sand with varying amounts of crushed granite and quartzite, and chert shatter.  There was a diverse exterior surface treatment in the ceramic vessel assemblage: cordmarked, partially smoothed-over cordmarked, smoothed-over cordmarked, plain smoothed, burnished smoothed, and fabric- impressed.  Four rim sherds have cord-wrapped stick impressions along the lip:  2 w/ interior, 1 w/ exterior & interior, & 1 w/ exterior.  Four sherds had node decorations:  3 interior & 1 exterior. 

Sixteen hafted bifaces were recovered during the archaeological investigations at the Wombles site that could be identified by their morphology (e.g., side-notched, corner-notched or stemmed).  All but one would be classified as dart points or knifes, with the exception being an arrow point (Item C in the stemmed hafted biface figure). 

The investigators interpret the Wombles site as a short-term occupation at the end of the Middle Woodland Period.  No carbonized floral samples were radiocarbon dated to help confirm this interpretation.  A technical report has been produced on the results of the investigation, Archaeological Investigations at the Wombles (23PI73) and Norvell (23PI74) Sites, Pike County, Missouri

Wombles site
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