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Museum of Anthropology Wexpusnime (45GA61)

Summary and Conclusions

Houses were constructed one at a time. They are structurally variable, but this is probably due to

  • what raw materials were available
  • how long occupants expected to be in residence
  • how many people were expected to live there
  • how skilled the builder was

The house forms and materials used are similar to those described in the ethnographic literature. They were constructed of split cedar poles and cedar planks erected over depressions in the soil, and covered a layer of grass beneath mats which were probably constructed of tule. The house depressions appear to have become shallower over time.

No evidence of any type of house construction is found in the occupation surfaces above the seven houses described here. The Early Camp is directly above the latest of the seven houses. It contains tools and debris scatter, large deep circular pits, shallow hearths, and pits filled with FMR. The Late Camp, above the Early Camp, contains a large earth oven, shallow hearths, pits filled with FMR, a cache of utilized flakes and large, tear-shaped knives, and horse bone. A plow zone containing historic artifacts is found above the Late Camp.

The interpretation of the site was greatly aided by the “large open block” excavation strategy and the multiple detailed field maps made of the features as they were exposed. It was hindered, however, by cultural disturbance which altered the house floors. This disturbance included the excavation of more recent houses into the remains of older ones, the excavation of deep storage and refuse pits into house rims and floors, and the use of house depressions for refuse disposal. Natural disturbance by animals or plant growth is minimal.

House 2 retained enough integrity to recognize a suite of simultaneous activity areas. Discrete activity areas are recognizable in both the Early and Late Camps, but contemporaneity of these areas could not be established.

The tool assemblage at Area A is unexpectedly homogeneous for both phases and remained consistent for the Late Harder. Earlier tool technologies found primarily at the Early and Late Camps – Cascade, Tucannon, and Early Harder – may have been transported to the site by the occupants or picked up at Area B.

Radiocarbon Dates from 45GA61 and 45WT39 (Source: Nakonechy 1998, Table 24)
SiteDate B.P.Sample #Association
45GA611050 +/- 100WSU 4996House 4
45GA611190 +/- 60WSU 4997House 2
45WT39760 +/- 100WSU 1042House 2
45WT39910 +/- 90WSU 1621House 3
45WT391030 +/- 90WSU 1620House 3
45WT391190 +/- 110WSU 1043House 2

Radiocarbon dates for Houses 4 and 2 place them contemporaneous with Houses 2 and 3 at nearby Wawawai (45WT39) (Nakonechny 1998:213; Table 24). Houses 4, 6/1, 5, and 2 date to the Late Harder phase. House 7 may post-date house 2 by 500-600 years, but still has similar tool forms and a similar distribution of tool types. Dating of the Late Camp is relative, based on the presence of horse bone, and falls between 1730 A.D. and 1800 A.D.


Areas for Future Research

Analysis of faunal remains could clarify possible differences in diet and procurement strategies between the House Phase and the Camp Phase; analysis of flakes and debitage could clarify differences in raw material procurement, tool production strategies, and tool use.