Jones Mill Site

Jones Mill SiteRestricted - Hot Spring
Location Restricted
Listed in National Register of Historic Places on 9/12/88

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SUMMARY

The Jones Mill Site is nominated under Criterion D. It is an extremely significant, multicomponent, prehistoric archeological site that contains deeply stratified deposits dating from the Archaic, Fourche Maline, and Caddo culture periods. It is one of a very few known Archaic sites of its type in the Ouachita Mountain region. This stratified archeological data can significantly contribute to the study of regional riverine adaptations and can stratigraphically determine the chronological sequence of lithic tool use during the Archaic period. Current evidence strongly suggests that the site was used for the processing of novaculite, presumably for distribution outside the Ouachita Mountain region and offers the opportunity to study Archaic economic systems from this locality. Fourche Maline - Early Caddo midden deposits and associated subsurface features offer the potential to examine the major changes that occurred in subsistence, social organization, and settlement systems during this critical time period.

ELABORATION

The Jones Mill Site is one of a very few known stratified archeological sites remaining in the Ouachita Mountain region. Artifacts dating from the Fourche Maline - early Caddo (1000 B.C. - 1200 A.D.; Midden Unit), late middle through late Archaic (3000 B.C. - 1000 B.C.; Soil Unit I), middle Archaic (6000 - 3000 B.C.; Soil Unit II) and possibly early Archaic/Paleo Indian (concentrated at the base of Soil Unit II) culture periods have been identified in distinct stratified deposits. In Arkansas, deeply stratified archeological sites are mostly located in bluff shelter deposits in the Ozark Mountain region and occur in the Ouachita Mountain region only in rare floodplain situations.

The archeological deposits at the Jones Mill Site offer a unique opportunity to stratigraphically determine the chronological sequence of lithic tool use in the Archaic period, specifically during the Tom's Brook, Crystal Mountain, and late Archaic phases. At present, the diagnostic artifacts used to define these cultures are limited. The Jones Mill Site data can not only greatly expand this inventory, but could also offer explanations about the development of the Tom's Brook Culture and its possible evolution out of earlier Archaic cultural groups. The Tom's Brook Culture is thought to be the start or a long term, very successful, adaptation to riverine environments in southwest Arkansas.

The site is strategically located on the last major terrace formation in the valley before the Ouachita River leaves the Ouachita Mountains and enters the Gulf Coastal Plain. This location, situated near known prehistoric quarry sites, and the extremely large quantities of hammerstones, preforms, and novaculite debris documented in the Archaic deposits, strongly suggests that the site was extensively used as a novaculite processing and distribution center. The procurement, processing, and distribution of bedrock novaculite is thought to have been a major economic occupation during the Tom's Brook Phase in the Ouachita River drainage area and warrants further investigation.

According to the latest cultural interpretations, the late Archaic period is the weakest and least understood period in the southwest Arkansas Archaic sequence. Limited site data and undefined diagnostic tool assemblages have restricted this important research. Soil unit II contains an artifact assemblage that could possibly define a late Archaic culture for this region.

Professional excavations of Fourche Maline - late Caddo period sites of this type are few. Recent excavations in a relatively small area of the Jones Mill Site have documented subsurface features and artifacts that can be assigned to this critical time period. These features include post molds that could delineate a structure wall, unique rock lined post molds and narrow pits, bell shaped storage pits, fire hearths, special use areas for the processing of novaculite, and human burials. The Fourche Maline culture, according to current interpretations, is thought to have evolved into the Mississippian period Caddoan culture. This evolution brought about fundamental changes in almost every aspect of Fourche Maline lifeways in this region of the state, including changes in settlement pattern, subsistence, social organization, and religious practices. The fundamental causes and processes of this change are not documented or understood. Osteological analysis of the skeletal material suggests a population in transition from primarily a meat to vegetable diet based on horticulture. This significant data offers a rare opportunity to study the initial development of the Caddoan Culture in the Ouachita Mountain region.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Charles H. 1975 A Study of Aboriginal Novacullte Exploitation in the Ouachita Mountains of South Central Arkansas. M. A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Early, Ann M. 1982 "Caddoan Settlement Systems in the Ouachita River Basin." InArkansas Archeology in Review, edited by Neal C. Trubowitz and Marvin D. Jeter, pp. 198 - 232. Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Series No. 15. Fayetteville.

Schambach, Frank F. 1970 Pre-Caddoan Cultures in the Trans-Mississippi South: A Beginning Sequence. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Schambach, Frank F. 1982 "An Outline of Fourche Maline Culture in Southwest Arkansas." In Arkansas Archeology in Review, edited by Neal L. Trubowitz and Marvin D. Jeter, pp. 132 - 198. Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Series No. 15. Fayetteville.

Schambach, Frank F., Ann M. Early, E. Thomas Hemmings, David B. Kelley and Michael Swanda. 1982 "Southwest Arkansas." In A State Plan for the Conservation of Archeological Resources in Arkansas, edited by Hester A. Davis. Arkansas Archeological Research Series No. 21. Fayetteville.


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