Museum Of Anthropology

Granite Point (45WT41)

Excavation: 1967-1968

Excavation of Granite Point Locality 1 took place during the summer of 1967 under the direction of Richard Daugherty and field direction of Roderick Sprague, and continued the summer of 1968 under the field direction of Frank C. Leonhardy. The site was excavated in three areas; Areas A and B were designated in locations where sufficient cultural deposits were found eroding from the bank, while the third location, Area C, was a culture-bearing area discovered during a geological study that had previously taken place at Granite Point. Test pits on the inland side of the railroad that ran adjacent to the site found no cultural deposits, so all excavation activities were done in the small area between the north shore of the Snake River and the railroad. At each Area separate horizontal grids were laid out, but all vertical measurements were taken from a common datum point.

Vertical Aerial of the Granite Point Locality Showing Major Geomorphic Features and the Position of Excavation Areas and Key Stratigraphic Sections (Leonhardy 1970, Fig. 25)

 

Area A

 

Excavation of Area A

Area A was described as a “small, generally triangular protrusion formed between the river bank and the bank of a short arroyo” (Leonhardy 1970).  A horizontal grid of 11 two-meter-squares was laid over the site. All 11 units were excavated. Nine units were excavated down to what was designated Stratum 6, approximately 2 ½ meters below surface, while two units (S22-24/W18-20) were excavated down an additional two meters. 

Area A Excavation Plat, 1967 Excavation (Leonhardy 1970, Fig. 2)

 

Features identified in Area A primarily consist of living surfaces identified by concentrations of fire-cracked rock and thin configurations of shell, rock and other occupational debris. Most features were located in Stratum 5 and Stratum 6 and many of the artifacts uncovered in Area A were found in association with occupational features. Large flat basaltic rocks associated with shell lenses were uncovered, and in some cases shells were positioned directly on top of the rocks. Two stones found in association with mussel shells were identified as having minimal abrasions on them, leading to the inference that these stones may have been used in shellfish preparation. Additional elongated cobbles with battered ends were found that may have also been used during mussel preparation. 

Occupational Features, Area A (Leonhardy 1970:22)

Feature No. Stratum Description
1, 1a 1a Living surface marked by fire-cracked rock and bone fragments
11 1a Living surface marked by fire-cracked rock, shell, bone fragments, ash and artifacts
32 1a Rock-lined fire-pit
4 2 Disarticulated, incomplete dog skeleton
17 3a Living surface marked by fire-cracked rock and bone fragments
25 3a Two deer mandibles and bone fragments
12 3c Small concentration of bone fragments, fire-cracked rock, and shell
3, 3c, 5 3c Living surface marked by bone fragments and river pebbles
36 3c Large flat rocks and charcoal stains
2, 13, 13b, 27, 29 5 Living surface marked by fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, shell, and associated artifacts
10 5 Diffuse layer of fire-cracked rock
15 5 Concentration of fire-cracked rock and bone fragments
19 5 Concentration of fire-cracked rock
7, 14, 15b, 16, 22, 28, 30a, 30b, 36 5 Prominent living surface at Strata 5-6 boundary composed of fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, shell lenses, and associated artifacts
20 6 Concentration of fire-cracked rock and shell
26 6 Diffuse layer of fire-cracked rock
31 6 Cluster of 16 small, flat river pebbles
33, 34 6 Living surface marked by shell lens, fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, and associated artifacts

 

Feature 4, located in Stratum 2 contained the disarticulated, incomplete skeleton of a dog which were the only canine remains recovered at the site.

 

Some of the river mussel shells at Area A were noted to have a small, ragged hole through the umbo joint just posterior to the hinge. The number of shells that had these holes, as well as the ragged and irregular appearance of the holes led Leonhardy to suggest that they were made by humans, but no further analysis was conducted.

   
  Magnified view of shell interior
 
 
 
WSU Inventory Number 6430, River Mussel shell displaying small irregular hole.

 

Area B

 

Excavation of Area B

Area B was smaller than Area A and cut into the bank at a steeper angle, requiring excavations to work from the face of the cut bank. Like Area A, Area B was excavated in two-meter squares. Squares S10-12/W12-18 comprised the primary excavations in the bank, revealing Stratum 1 through Stratum 4. At the base of the bank units S12-14/W12-18 were excavated, with excavation activity occurring primarily in Stratum 4. 

Area B Excavation Plat, 1967 Excavation (Leonhardy, Fig. 2)

 

Materials recovered from living surfaces in Area B were mainly comprised of stone, shell and faunal bone fragments. These features tended to be problematic to identify with some layered directly on top of one another making their vertical distinction difficult.

Occupational features, Area B (Leonhardy 1970:27)

Feature No. Stratum Description
1 1a Living surface marked by fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, grinding stone, hopper mortar stone, and other associated artifacts
5 1b Living surface marked by fire-cracked rocks and bone fragments
13, 15 1b/2 Living surfaces at Stratum 1b-Stratum 2 boundary marked by fire-cracked rock
2 2 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock
6, 7 2 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock
9 2 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, and charcoal stain
23 2 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock
27 2 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, and associated artifacts
12b, 29 2 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, shell, and associated artifacts
9b, 11, 12 3 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock, bone fragments, shell, and associated artifacts
3 3 Living surface marked by river cobbles, bone fragments and shell
8 3 Large flat rock, associated smaller stones, and bone fragments
10a, 10b 3 Superimposed living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock
4, 24 3 Living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock
12c, 12d, 12e, 12f 3 Superimposed living surfaces marked by fire-cracked rock
12g 4 Association of cobble chopper, bone fragments, and shell
18 4 Small concentration of fire-cracked rock with associated artifacts
19 4 Living surface marked by bone fragments, shell, rocks and charcoal flecks
21 4 Living surface marked by cobbles, small bone fragments, and chipping detritus
26 4 Living surface marked by fire-cracked rock, partly articulated but incomplete skeleton of Lynx rufus, and associated artifacts

 

Feature 26 contained the only feline remains recovered at the site: A partially articulated skeleton of a bobcat (Lynx rufus) that was believed not to have been buried.

 

Area C

 

Excavation of Area C

Area C was positioned on a large sand dune at the upstream end of the site where cultural deposits were discovered during geologic investigations of exposed volcanic ash. A small test pit provided findings considered significant enough to warrant a large scale excavation along the bank. Unfortunately, it was found that there were three meters of sterile sediments above the culture-bearing layers and time limitations did not permit full excavation of Area C.

In 1967 a main trench, containing four two-meter squares, was excavated below the layer of volcanic ash to a layer of gravel at approximately 96.00 meters above the common datum (currently unknown).

In 1968, the excavation of Area C was conducted in two parts: The removal of the three meter overburden with a backhoe for Trench 1 and use of the backhoe to clean out the arroyo in preparation of Trench 2. A control block was left for hand excavation to provide a more complete stratigraphic sequence.

Trench 1, excavation of the sand dune, uncovered cultural deposits between the top of the volcanic ash down to floodplain deposits. Squares N22-24/W16-18 were selected for bulk sampling and their sediments were wet-screened to recover micro-vertebrate remains. Trench 2 partly overlapped with the main trench from 1967 and encountered complications in its excavation, with the documentation of cultural materials associated with the gravel layer proving problematic. It was both difficult to determine if these were primary or secondary deposits and to firmly establish the gravel’s stratigraphic relationship to the higher culture-bearing strata. As a result of these obstacles it was decided to approach the excavation of Trench 2 differently and excavate two two-meter trenches that were one meter apart. Excavation within these two smaller trenches was then completed by working the vertical face of the gravel moving horizontally from one end of the trench to the other.

Area C Excavation Plat, 1968 Excavation (Leonhardy 1970, Fig. 16)

 

There were very few identified living areas, and those identified were not well defined with limited findings of diagnostic fire-cracked rock. In the absence of fire-cracked rock, interpretation of living spaces were based on concentrations of faunal bone fragments and chipped stone debris. Hearth areas were identified by small areas of burned earth and associated flecks of charcoal. Excavation of Area C uncovered Feature 67-2, which was initially thought to be pyrolized grass. However, later analysis determined this was desiccated, rather than pyrolized, grass. In an attempt to recover the plant remains for later study they were stabilized and removed with a vinylite resin. Unfortunately, this method proved to be an ineffective recovery technique as laboratory attempts to separate the plant remains from the resin were only partially successful.

Occupational Features, Area C, 1967 & 1968 (Leonhardy 1970:40)

Feature No. Stratum Description
67-1 10b Large cobble, rock fragments, and bone fragments
67-2 10b Dessicated grass, flecks of charcoal, and bone fragments
67-3 10b Burned earth (hearth), fragments of bone and shell, and associated cobble tool
67-4 10b Burned earth (hearth), flecks of charcoal, ash, and bone fragments
67-5 10b Burned earth (hearth), charcoal stain, ash, and burned shell
68-1 10b Concentration of chipping detritus and cobble fragments
68-3 10b Large cobble, bone fragments, two edge-ground cobbles
68-4 10b Poorly defined living surface marked by association of cobbles, bone fragments, shell and artifacts
68-5 10b Concentration of bone fragments
68-6 12 Living surface composed of rock, bone, chipping detritus, and artifacts
68-7 12 Association of rock and bone fragments beneath Feature 68-6

 

 

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