A rare discovery along Cypress Creek in Northwest
Harris County sheds light on an ancient people who
roamed the area a thousand years ago.
Rod Rice reports the site was unearthed as Harris
County Flood Control began an erosion project
along the creek.
They were called Akokisa, groups of hunters and gatherers who for centuries followed the game and the plants that sustained them. Their population and the abundance of food here allowed them to maintain their lifestyle long after other people became more settled.
“They remained hunters and gatherers all the way up to the time the Spanish and Angelos came into the area.“
That’s Roger Moore of Moore Archaeological Consultants. His company began excavating the site after a discovery that indicated it had not been disturbed for many centuries.
“In this case it was a hearth, the stained soil and bits of charcoal left by a bowl shaped hearth dug into the soil and used as, probably, a cooking fire.”
Burrowing animals, erosion, flooding, and all manner of things can destroy an ancient site so it is rare to find one intact. This one, says Moore, was probably a location where groups of Akokisa occasionally came together.
“This is typical of nomadic people everywhere that they try to have sometime in the year when they can congregate for social functions and so forth.”
Another indication of an important site in this area is the discovery of stone flakes.
“From the production of stone tools, because naturally when you’re making an arrowhead you make a lot more stone flakes then you do arrowheads as you reduce the rock to the form you need it. And, the
second most frequent item is pottery, at least after about 600 A.D.”
About a thousand artifacts were unearthed you can see Roger Moore describing two of them in a video at kuhf.org
He says while Akokisa were nomadic they didn’t travel randomly. They tended to return to a favorite site time and again.
“Many of the sites that we find in Harris and adjacent counties, ah, it was revisited over a long, long period, I mean several hundred years.”
Harris County Flood Control’s Heather Saucier won’t give the exact location of the site because amateur archaeologist could disturb the area where artifacts are found.
“Their placement and distribution in the ground are equally important and telling about how these people once lived, and so it’s very important that only a professional archaeologist go and excavate such sites.”
The artifacts and excavation details will be available for scholars to study and for public education projects for us to learn more about the people who lived here a thousand years ago.
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This story first aired September 10, 2009.