I have to confess that teaching this course on Arkansas Archaeology for the general public has invigorated my interest in restarting some prehistoric projects. On Monday we’re covering the topic of the Sloan site, the oldest known formal cemetery in the New World (Dalton period, 8,500 BC) which is situated on remnants of sand dunes in northeastern Arkansas. I say that is a cemetery…although very little bone was discovered, there is a powerful circumstantial case for it being a cemetery (see Morse and Morse 1983, Chapter 4 for info.).
One of the pieces of circumstantial evidence is the artifact clustering on the site (see the image for an example). I’m contemplating tackling a more sophisticated spatial analysis of these artifacts using GIS (Geographical Information Systems)…I had considered do such an analysis a decade ago when I first go into using GIS as an archaeological tool, but things have gotten substantially easier since…it should be fun….I’ll keep you updated.