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Archaeologist investigate the Evans site


Site ID: 15Mm182

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


​​​​​​​​​Archaeologists excavated the Evans site in Montgomery County prior to the realignment of U.S. Highway 11. As a result of their research, they concluded that ​Middle Woodland groups had periodically gathered at the Evans site to prepare their dead for interment in a nearby mound. The rituals they observed would have reflected the person's age, sex, and social status at death, and would have ensured the person's safe passage to the afterlife.​​

The burial mound located about 300 feet west of the Evans site.


​Several lines of evidence led archaeologists to believe that ritual activities had taken place at t​​he Evans site. First was the discovery of two large pits along the site's eastern edge. These pits were lined with dark organic soils and filled with yellow clay that had been processed to remove impurities. Researchers interpreted the pits as places used for clay storage.

Second, along the western edge of the site, investigators found pits that contained debris from making of mica crescents for interment with the dead. Charred seeds of native cultigens (squash, maygrass, goosefoot, and sunflower) recovered from these pits suggested that manufacturing mica objects was associated with ritual feasting. 

Third, toward the site center, they found evidence of burning, concentrations of fire-cracked rocks in a pit, yellow clay, ash, and burned bones in a large shallow basin. They interpreted this basin as the place where mourners had cremated the dead prior to mound interment.

Map of the Evans site showing different activity areas.

What's Cool?

Use of Clay in Funeral Rituals

The use of yellow clay appears to have been a very important element of Middle Woodland rituals. Native peoples used clay to build platforms on which they placed the dead; to permanently seal individual graves; to construct log tombs; to create basins where they cremated the dead; and to cap burial mounds. 

At Evans, not only did archaeologists find evidence of clay storage, but within the large shallow basin at the site center, they found an area of alternating layers of clay and ash. Very small amounts of cremated remains were contained in the ash deposits, which led archaeologists to conclude that after an individual had been cremated, they were interred elsewhere, perhaps in a nearby mound.​

Profile of a large clay storage pit on the site's eastern edge.

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