Visit to Snowball or Slay Cave

On March 18 & 19 we visited Marshall, Arkansas.  Dr. Brandon gave an evening talk at the Searcy County Historical Society about bluff shelter archeology on Friday night, and the talk was well received with a great turnout.  The following day, Brandon and Rees visited several sites in the area—including Snowball or Slay Cave.

Many archeologists who work in the mid-content are familiar with the distinctive Calf Creek point, a Early and/or Middle Archaic stone projectile point with deep, narrow basal notches.  Those points, and presumably the Archaic culture that produced them were originally defined by Don Dickson in 1968 based on his excavations at “Calf Creek Cave.”

Wide-angle view out of the mouth of Snowball or Slay Cave.

“Calf Creek Cave” is only one of the many names given to what locals call “Snowball Cave”—named after the nearby community of Snowball, Arkansas—or “Slay Cave” named after an early landowner.

In the 1940s there are reports of a “7-foot-tall Indian Woman” being excavated from the cave, but you can check out our discussion of myths and misconceptions about Ozark bluff shelters to see why this is not the case.

Unfortunately for contemporary researchers, this cave—although spectacular—has been extensively disturbed by looting.  Even by 1968, our site records say “forget about Snowball Cave.”  It is very doubtful that intact deposits remain.  This is one more example of important archeological data destroyed by looting.

Giant holes from decades of looting at Slay Cave.