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Workers stand along edges and top of extant mound


Site ID: 15Be8, 15Be22, 15Be23

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​​​​​Cleek-McCabe is a circular Fort Ancient village situated in the floodplain of Mud Lick Creek. It consists of a circular 100-foot-wide midden ring that surrounds a 200-foot-wide central plaza. Low burial mounds were located on the eastern and western sides of the midden ring, respectively. The University of Kentucky sampled the midden ring and excavated the western mound in the late 1930s. The eastern mound remains preserved. Artifacts and radiocarbon dates suggest that Native farmers lived at the village in the thirteenth century.

Workers expose the remains of burned house walls and roof encountered in the midden ring.


​Limited excavations within the midden ring documented hearths, a group of charred logs that represent the burned walls and roof of a house, and a single burial.  

The western mound, which stood about 3 feet high, measured about 100 feet in diameter. Investigators documented the remains of several individuals and rock "pavements" (flat concentrations of large limestone rocks) within the mound.  The rock pavements may have been linked to ritual activities that involved capping the mound, either in addition to or as part of the burial rites that took place there.  ​Beneath the mound, investigators encountered the remains of three public structures (buildings that served community-wide social, political, economic and/or religous functions), all centered at the same spot. 

Ceramics from the site are similar to those from other Fort Ancient sites in Boone County, southwestern Ohio, and southeastern Indiana. Most vessels are jars with cordmarked bodies and plain necks. Decoration takes the form of incised ​​​curvilinear "guilloche" designs (repetitive intertwined bands​​) on jar necks, and incised rising and descending triangles on jar rim folds. Many jars have thick triangular-shaped strap handles.

Cordmarked jar with curvilinear guilloche design on neck,  rising triangles on rim fold, and thick strap handle.

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​Public Structure

Archaeologists documented a series of three public structures (buildings that served the community at-large) beneath the western mound. None appeared to have been roofed. These Fort Ancient submound structures reflect continuity with earlier Woodland period Adena and Hopewell mound sites, such as Robbins, Wright, Crigler, and Bullock, beneath which archaeologists also have documented roofless circular or rectangular submound structures.

​The earliest submound structure at Cleek-McCabe was circular and measured 43 feet in diameter. It was followed by a rectangular structure that measured 40 by 80 feet. This second structure was followed, in turn, by a third, even larger, rectangular structure that measured 56 by 95 feet. Investigators documented several burials, a rectangular fire basin, and an area covered with charred twigs, bark, and grass enclosed within the largest submound structure. 

Also of note were three very large pole-pits (pits dug for poles that were not part of the structure). One pole-pit was in the center of all three structures, suggesting that a central pole was an important element likely linked to religious activities carried out within all three structures. Residents erected poles in the other two pole-pits after building the first rectangular submound structure.

Cleek-McCabe submound "public" (community) structures.

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