|Archaeological deposits discovered at the Gee Creek sites challenge the accepted view of the depositional history of the Portland Basin since the late Pleistocene. Intact archaeological deposits dating to as early as 8,000 years ago were found deeply buried in wind-deposited sediment. The archaeological and stratigraphic record present at the Gee Creek sites suggests that sediment accumulation in upland areas of the region did not cease after the late Pleistocene Missoula Floods blanketed the region with alluvial sediment. Rather, deposition continued, perhaps in periodic episodes, through the Holocene. Periods of decreased aeolian deposition and relative stability of the land are recorded in the archaeological deposits that indicate human occupation of the landscape and use of local, established resources. These resources would have included animal products, vegetable foods, wood, plant fibers, and local stone for the construction of fire pits, ovens, and stone tools. |
|Two archaeological features, earth ovens, at Gee Creek have been radiocarbon dated to around 8,000 years in age. These are the oldest well-dated archaeological features in the local area. The archaeological record of the Portland Basin is particularly lacking in well-dated Archaic Period sites, and these data represent a marked improvement in archaeological knowledge of this poorly known period. Other deposits at the Gee Creek sites have been radiocarbon dated as well and show that these sites provide a record of Holocene-age human activity extending into the Late Pacific Period, as recently as around 600 years ago. In total, 10 radiocarbon dates span most of the Holocene. Other temporal data support the radiocarbon chronology including geoarchaeology, obsidian hydration, and artifact typology.|
|Despite the long duration of time represented by the archaeological deposits, artifacts and features are relatively similar throughout. This suggests that the types of activities that occurred in the project area changed little over time and that these sites represent a long tradition of upland use, although other aspects of settlement and social organization may have changed in lowland settings.
|| Cobble chopper|
|A variety of subsistence resources may have been processed at the sites, including large to small mammals, fish, birds, turtle, nuts, seeds, berries, and root crops. Flaked-stone artifacts show that stone tools were being made; mammals, fish, and birds were being processed; hides were worked; and minimal hunting was occurring in the vicinity. Earth oven technologies representing both expedient processing of resources and resource-specific cooking, drying, or roasting were found at the Gee Creek sites. Cobble choppers appear to have been an important tool type at the Gee Creek sites, and are probably related to activities and materials that were critical to site function, including woodworking and food processing.|
This earth oven from the Gee Creek sites was used to cook nuts over 4,000 years ago. The portion of the oven that was discovered by the archaeologists is represented by the reddened earth in the upper portion of the wall of the excavation unit.
|Comparison of the Gee Creek sites with other regional sites highlights some important commonalities and differences. Like other regional upland sites, this area appears to have been used as a procurement location where specific resources were targeted for collection and processing. Many of the stone tool technologies identified at the Gee Creek locality are similar to those found at other sites. However, the continuous use of cook-stone features and certain tool technologies, including cobble choppers, from the early Holocene to the late Holocene (from around 8,000 to approximately 600 years ago) is somewhat surprising. |
|Archaeological monitoring of mechanical ground scraping during construction revealed deeply buried, intact archaeological features and deposits that were not concentrated in one area of the landscape. These discoveries challenge the conventional methods of archaeological testing and evaluation and highlight the need for a better understanding of the geological context and the nature of the cultural activities represented by an archaeological deposit. Upland settings throughout the Portland Basin and southwestern Washington may have the potential to contain archaeological materials within thick, aeolian deposits that blanket portions of the landscape. Archaeological sites found in these settings should be closely examined to determine if buried occupational horizons are present.|
| Investigation of artifacts found during archaeological monitoring of roadway construction at the Gee Creek sites|