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Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Campbell, Sarah K.
Koetje, Todd A.
Boxberger, Daniel L., 1950-
This thesis presents results of analysis of materials from 35JO21, a deep stratified site on an elevated terrace on the Rogue River. An excavation by Oregon State University in 1992 revealed stratified cultural deposits to over three meters below the surface with some projectile point types that had been dated elsewhere to 8,000 years ago. No radiometric dates were obtained, however, and only a brief report was prepared. The goal of this thesis was to perform the necessary analyses to define site components and to confirm or disconfirm the proposed early age of the deepest material. Existing stratigraphic profiles were analyzed to define stratigraphic units which were then tested with selected radiometric samples. Morphological analysis of the formed tools showed an extensive lithic assemblage including 810 chipped tools, 117 heavy cobble implements and 12 stone artifacts that are incised, perforated or unmodified. Other artifact analyses included technological analysis of a small sample of the estimated 30,000 pieces of debitage and distributions of pumice and mineral earth. Faunal materials were fragmentary and, from the lower levels, consisted entirely of calcined material, but I was able to identify some mammal and fish elements and incorporated counts of mammal and fish bone and freshwater mussel into the component descriptions. A total of 164 diagnostic bifaces artifacts were related to previously proposed regional classification schemes and a stylistic analysis of the design elements on incised siltstone fragments was also performed. My results show that 35JO21 does contain extensive deposits from the Early Holocene and possibly Late Pleistocene, two time periods that are represented by an extremely small number of archaeological sites in southwestern Oregon. I defined the deepest component as extending from the bedrock upwards to the first appearance of pumice in the deposit, assumed to represent the eruption of Mt. Mazama. The three radiometric date estimates obtained support this with ages ranging from approximately 11,000 to 7,700 years ago (11,190 to 10,730, 9410 to 9030, and 7950 to 7730 cal B.P.) and make Stratton Creek the earliest dated site in southwestern Oregon. I suggest that Component I represents a short-term occupation that was part of a seasonal round. Based on cultural material and faunal remains, activities at the site included camping, manufacture of stone tools, and the processing of mammals and pigments. Some styles of artifacts, such as incised shale objects, imply social and personal activities beyond resource processing. Five of the six incised stone items were found in these pre-Mazama deposits; these are very rare in southwestern Oregon and have stylistic connections to assemblages from Northern California dated to the mid-Holocene. Component IB (7,700 to ca. 4,000 B.P.) is delineated by the beginning of pumice inclusion at the base and by a relatively abrupt boundary at the top with a darker matrix. The boundary appears to be a stable surface characterized by constructed features that are assigned to the component above. Projectile point styles are consistent with an age range from 7,700 to approximately 4,000 years ago. The activities on the terrace intensified significantly after the eruption of Mount Mazama in the Middle Holocene with a greater diversity of tool types and an increase in obsidian usage that suggests an increase in long distance exchange or travel. Component II, dated to the Late Holocene ( ca. 4,000 to ca. 150 B.P.) by projectile point styles, is distinguished by the appearance of pestles, food processing facilities, and a possible pit structure. Faunal remains diversify to include salmon and bivalves. Behavior of the people at the site clearly changed, and seems to have included fish harvesting and processing. The appearance of pestles and narrow-necked projectile points suggests an introduction and adoption of foreign technologies, possibly in response to changing conditions and opportunities. The presence of plant food processing features and shifts in tool types, especially narrow-necked projectile points, at Stratton Creek may point to regional movements of culture groups. This thesis confirms that the Stratton Creek Site (35JO21) offers valuable data to the understanding of prehistory of southwestern Oregon for the past 11, 000 years. Only one other site in the Rogue River watershed dating to these time periods, Marial (35CU84), has been extensively excavated. The assemblage at 35JO21 is similar to the collection from the Marial site (35CU84) yet offers a higher resolution snapshot of the Rogue River watershed's occupants since well before the eruption of Mount Mazama. The chronological framework and analysis presented here for site 35JO21 will facilitate ongoing development and modification of models explaining early adaptive strategies, population movements, cultural interactions, and settlement and subsistence systems through time.
Western Washington University
Subject – LCSH
Excavations (Archaeology)--Oregon--Josephine County; Indians of North America--Oregon--Josephine County; Stone implements--Oregon--Josephine County; Josephine County (Or.)--Antiquities
Josephine County (Or.)
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.
Bialas, Catherin M. (Catherin Maria), "11,000 years on the Rogue River: prehistoric occupation of the Stratton Creek Site (35JO21), Josephine County, Oregon" (2012). WWU Graduate School Collection. 232.