During the summer of 2017, the Mississippi State University excavation field school was held at the Hester site (22MO569). The site is located just north of the town of Amory in northeast Mississippi, between the Tombigbee River and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The initial test units at Hester were excavated in 1973 by Sam Brookes, an archaeologist with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH), with subsequent excavations taking place in 1974 and 1978. The MDAH excavations resulted in the recovery of ceramic and lithic artifacts diagnostic to the Late Paleoindian through Late Woodland Periods.
An assemblage of artifacts comparable to what was recovered during the MDAH excavations was recovered during the 2017 field season. The excavations allowed for a fresh view of the stratigraphic profile of the site as well as the recording of artifact dip and strike data and the gathering of close-interval sediment samples for a particle size analysis.
Approximately 1,600 individual artifacts, consisting primarily of flaked stone, were piece-plotted. Most of the piece-plotted artifacts were recovered from a buried soil that was identified that was approximately 75 centimeters below surface (cmbs) and continued to a depth of approximately 100 cmbs. Traditional point types such as Dalton, Jude, Big Sandy, and Kirk were recovered, in addition to possible grinding stones and organic materials that may be suitable for AMS radiocarbon dating. Several pit features were also recorded during the 2017 excavation. Unfortunately, the dark nature of the soils at Hester made feature identification difficult, but in total seven features were recorded.
This summer, during June and July, Dr. Shane Miller, Derek Anderson, and myself are once again returning to Hester with a crew composed of nearly 30 graduates, undergraduates, and volunteers for the 2018 MSU excavation field school. Seventeen new 1×1-meter excavation units are planned to be opened to continue the investigations at Hester. Time was a limiting factor during the 2017 field season that impacted the completion of several of the 2017 units. Those units will be completed this summer. Additionally, excavation methods have been adjusted to better identify subsurface features that may be present at Hester. Keep an eye out for updates concerning the progress of the excavation over the next 3 weeks!
By Jim Strawn