Little River Testing

Phase II Testing of Four Sites in the Proposed Little River Reservoir
Wake County, NC

In 2009, ACC, Inc. conducted Phase II archaeological testing of four sites (31WA17, 31WA854, 31WA867, and 31WA875) within the boundaries of the proposed Little River Reservoir. The test excavations were conducted pursuant to federal and state regulations pertaining to the preservation of significant cultural resources. The goals of the test excavations were to relocate and delineate the sites, conduct sufficient excavations to definitively determine each site’s National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility status, and make management recommendations, as appropriate.

1 by 2 meter test unit

These four archaeological sites were first recorded in 1991 as part of an archaeological survey for the Little River Reservoir in which all areas below an elevation of 270 feet were surveyed. Of the more than 100 sites identified, eight were recommended for additional testing and evaluation. For the current project, sites 31WA17, 31WA854, 31WA867, and 31WA875 were determined to be potentially affected by proposed activities on the Little River. Subsequently, ACC, Inc. was contracted to conduct Phase II archaeological testing on these sites.

For each site, the archaeological testing consisted of the excavation of shovel tests at 10 meter intervals to delineate the site boundaries, and the excavation of 1 by 1 meter and/or 1 by 2 meter test units.

Triangular projectile points from 31WA17

Site 31WA17 was a large habitation site with occupations dating to the Early Archaic through Late Woodland periods. This site yielded numerous diagnostic artifacts including lithics and ceramics. The test units and machine scrapes excavated at this site identified several cultural features suggesting that the deposits at this site have remained relatively intact below the plowzone. This site was determined to have the potential to address research questions pertaining to intrasite activity patterns, settlement patterns, raw material selection and acquisition, and subsistence strategies. Therefore, site 31WA17 was recommended eligible for the NRHP. If site deposits will be impacted, a mitigation plan will be necessary.

Prehistoric ceramics from 31WA17

Site 31WA854 was a large habitation site dating from the Middle Archaic through Woodland periods. The overall integrity of the site has been impacted by natural processes and human activities. The cultural components were mixed and retained no stratigraphic integrity. Preserved organic material is absent, and no cultural features were identified. It was determined that the site was not likely to add significantly to our understanding of prehistoric settlement along the Little River beyond what it has already contributed. Site 31WA854 was recommended ineligible for the NRHP.

Artifact distribution at 31WA867

Site 31WA867 was a large habitation site with an occupation that spans nearly 10,000 years. Shovel testing and test excavations revealed a high degree of stratigraphic integrity. No cultural features were identified, and organic material (i.e., charcoal, bone) was recovered in small amounts. The test units placed below the 264 foot contour had relatively shallow and mixed deposits. However, those units placed at or slightly above this contour contained intact stratigraphy to depths near 1.0 meter. The extensive and well-preserved deposits of 31WA867 (above the 264′ contour) were determined to have the potential to contribute significantly to our understanding of prehistoric and early historic settlement along the Little River. This site was recommended eligible for the NRHP.

Site 31WA875 was a large habitation site occupied during the Early and Middle Archaic and Woodland periods. Natural and human processes have affected the archaeological remains, leaving mixed deposits with no stratigraphic integrity. The only preserved organic material recovered was charcoal and it was rare. No cultural features were identified during the investigation. This site was deemed to have no further research potential and was recommended ineligible for the NRHP.