Archaeology, History, and Predictive Modeling
Research at Fort Polk, 1972-2002
Publication Year: 2003
Fort Polk Military Reservation encompasses approximately 139,000 acres in western Louisiana 40 miles southwest of Alexandria. As a result of federal mandates for cultural resource investigation, more archaeological work has been undertaken there, beginning in the 1970s, than has occurred at any other comparably sized area in Louisiana or at most other localities in the southeastern United States. The extensive program of survey, excavation, testing, and large-scale data and artifact recovery, as well as historic and archival research, has yielded a massive amount of information. While superbly curated by the U.S. Army, the material has been difficult to examine and comprehend in its totality.
With this volume, Anderson and Smith collate and synthesize all the information into a comprehensive whole. Included are previous investigations, an overview of local environmental conditions, base military history and architecture, and the prehistoric and historic cultural sequence. An analysis of location, environmental, and assemblage data employing a sample of more than 2,800 sites and isolated finds was used to develop a predictive model that identifies areas where significant cultural resources are likely to occur. Developed in 1995, this model has already proven to be highly accurate and easy to use.
Archaeology, History, and Predictive Modeling will allow scholars to more easily examine the record of human activity over the past 13,000 or more years in this part of western Louisiana and adjacent portions of east Texas. It will be useful to southeastern archaeologists and anthropologists, both professional and amateur.
David G. Anderson is an archaeologist with the National Park Service's Southeast Archeological Center in Tallahassee, Florida, and coeditor of The Woodland Southeast. Steven D. Smith is with SCIAA in Columbia, South Carolina. J.W. Joseph and Mary Beth Reed are with New South Associates in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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List of Figures
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List of Tables
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In compliance with federal mandates, cultural resource investigations have been undertaken on Fort Polk in western Louisiana since the early 1970s. An extensive program of archaeological survey, testing, and large-scale data-recovery excavations has occurred, as well as extensive historic and archival research. More than 125,000 acres of accessible terrain on the installation have been intensively surveyed, and almost 5,000 sites and isolated finds...
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Syntheses like these require the help and assistance of a great many people to produce, and a major challenge is acknowledging the work of the many fine scholars whose research is being summarized. Over the past 30 years, hundreds of archaeologists have worked at Fort Polk, as crew members or as project directors, making it one of the training grounds of modern southeastern archaeology. Their contributions are summarized and acknowledged...
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Over the past 35 years, since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, vast quantities of archaeological and historical research have been conducted on public and private lands across the United States. Much of this work remains unknown to all but a handful of specialists, however, even though taken collectively it has helped to revolutionize our understanding of human settlement in our country. The sheer mass of...
1. Environmental Setting
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This chapter contains a brief environmental overview of the Fort Polk area. Similar environmental summaries have appeared in earlier reports of investigation on Fort Polk, and some of these studies provide great detail on local conditions, including those of specific parts of the installation...
2. Previous Cultural Resource Investigations in the Vicinity of Fort Polk
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This chapter provides a brief history and description of the cultural resource investigations undertaken on and near Fort Polk through early A.D. 2002. A listing of these projects is given in Table 2.1, together with summary data on the total acreage investigated or number of sites excavated. As can be seen from the table, almost 5,000 sites and isolated finds have been...
3. Prehistoric Settlement Analyses and Predictive Modeling in West-Central Louisiana
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Over the past 25 years considerable effort has been directed to the development of predictive models of historic and prehistoric site location in the west-central Louisiana area and, coupled with this, to developing an understanding of the nature of past settlement systems. Predictive modeling efforts have taken place primarily in two areas: on Fort Polk proper...
4. The 1988 and 1995 Fort Polk Predictive Models
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Two predictive models were developed for Fort Polk during the preparation of the historic preservation plans. While developing the 1988 Historic Preservation Plan (HPP), locational and environmental data about the installation and from 1,657 sites and isolated finds (excluding four recorded cemeteries) (Table 4.1) were used to generate three cultural resource probability zones. These were as follows: Zone 1, floodplain areas; Zone 2...
5. Prehistoric Assemblages in the Vicinity of Fort Polk
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In this chapter diagnostic artifacts found on Fort Polk are described and a series of assemblages are examined to explore variability in settlement and land use on the installation. Because the dating of assemblages is fundamental to most forms of archaeological analysis and because the cultural sequence in this part of Louisiana has been somewhat ambiguous and in need of clarification, considerable effort was made to document all of the...
6. The Prehistoric Cultural Sequence on Fort Polk
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A tremendous amount of archaeological and historic research has occurred in west-central Louisiana in recent years and on Fort Polk in particular, and our understanding of the nature of past human occupation and use of this area has grown accordingly. In this chapter the prehistoric cultural sequence in the Fort Polk area is presented using a period-by-period format, together with a review of the kinds of research needed to help refine...
7. Fort Polk’s Historic Development
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This chapter focuses on Fort Polk’s historic period settlement as revealed by historic documents. It is a synthesis of a book-length county history (Smith 1999) that emerged as a result of the development of a historic context for Fort Polk (see Chapter 8). In the county history the reader was warned that the people of Vernon Parish, especially those settling within modern Fort Polk, left few written records of their lives. Further, like those of many rural...
8. A Historic Period Context for Fort Polk
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This chapter examines the historic archaeological sites on Fort Polk. Much less attention has been paid to these resources than to prehistoric sites, partially because there are so few and partially because at the survey and testing level it is difficult to approach the kinds of research questions that might shed light on the historic occupation of the installation. Still, there have been valuable and valiant attempts to understand the historic...
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As we have seen in the preceding chapters, the information collected by Fort Polk’s cultural resource management program has contributed a great deal to our understanding of past life in western Louisiana. Fort Polk has an aggressive and proactive program, furthermore, that will continue to generate information and preserve and protect archaeological and historical properties on the installation in the years to come. The production of technical...
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Publication Year: 2003