by Michelle M Rathgaber
Artifact of the Month – January 2021
This month’s Artifact of the Month is a Mill Creek chert hoe flake excavated in 2015 at Richard’s Bridge (3CT11/22), a village site in Crittenden County in northeastern Arkansas that dates to around AD 1350–1650. This one small flake gives archeologists a ton of information about the people who lived at the Richard’s Bridge site, what they were doing, and who they may have been in contact with.
We know that Mississippian people were expansive farmers who were growing large crops of corn, beans, and squash as well as other crops from the Eastern Agricultural Complex that they and their ancestors had domesticated (Mueller, et al. 2017). Archeologists find direct evidence of these crops through analysis of botanical remains found at archeological sites. We know that hundreds of people could have lived in each individual town around the region and there is evidence of many towns of various sizes throughout the area during the Mississippi period. To do the level of farming and crop production needed to feed that many people, the Mississippians made tools to help with the agricultural labor. One farming/gardening tool that we find evidence of in Arkansas is a hoe.