There’s more information over on the Southwest Missouri State University Center for Archaeological Research site:
STOCKTON (AP) – An archaeological dig that has helped rewrite the prehistory of Missouri is weeks away from completion.
Work at the Big Eddy Dig site started in 1997 after collectors reported finding hundreds of arrow and spear points over the last 30 years in an area near a bend of the Sac River, north of Stockton Lake.
Over the years, remains from every major period of human habitation have been discovered at the threatened site. The edge of the dig is about 5 feet from the river, and the dig site is expected to be washed away in the next year or two as large volumes of water are released from the lake to generate electricity.
Jack Ray, who is one of two supervising archaeologists from the Southwest Missouri State Universityâ€™s Center for Archaeological Research, called Big Eddy one of the oldest sites of human habitation in the Western Hemisphere.
He said prehistoric humans gathered on the banks of the Sac River at least 13,000 years ago and possibly as far back as 15,000 years ago.
“Itâ€™s like taking the lens of a camera and focusing it on a picture. With what weâ€™ve discovered, weâ€™re sharpening our focus on some of the oldest human habitations ever found in this area,” he said.
Rock that isnâ€™t native to the area has been used to make projectile points found at the site. Stone spear points, arrow points and other knives and projectile points come not only from the local prehistoric culture, known as the Dalton culture, but also from the San Patrice culture that existed from the Gulf of Mexico to southern Arkansas and from the Kirk culture, which originated on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River in Kentucky and Tennessee.
“We think what we had here was something contemporaneous to the rendezvous of the 19th century, where mountain men, Indians and others gathered to trade goods and swap stories,” Ray said. “Itâ€™s a good example of interaction between ancient cultures, and they seem to have designated this site for repetitive use for between 200 and 300 years.”
Most of the funding for the dig has come from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the Stockton Dam and lake. The corps spent $1.3 million for five seasons of digging and the related reports and research, spokesman Eric Cramer said.
Graduate students and volunteers have assisted in the search for clues to the regionâ€™s history. Among the volunteers was Lyle Sparkman, who works as the assistant superintendent of the East Newton School District.
“It was a real honor to contribute to the project and extremely satisfying to work with the professionals at the site,” Sparkman said. “It is a real adventure to be able to help rewrite the textbooks of Missouri prehistory.”