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Florence house, pie plates denote posts


Site ID: 15Hr21, 15Hr22

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


​​​​​​​​​​In 1992, archaeologists from the University of Kentucky conducted limited excavations at the Florence site in Harrison County. The site consisted of two circular midden stains (organically enriched soil created by people living in one place for a long time) about 130 feet from one another on side-by-side upland ridgetops. Fieldwork focused on discovering the organization of space within the larger midden stain. ​

Each stain surrounded a central area (plaza) that residents had purposely kept clean. Of the two, Site 15Hr21 was the smaller and earlier village, while Site 15Hr22 was larger and later. Residents may have enlarged their village in the move to the adjacent ridgetop to accommodate an influx of people, and they lived there longer. In that village, some residents were buried in a low conical earthen mound.

Site 15Hr22 showing midden stain, mound, plaza, and excavation area.


The midden stain at Site 15Hr22 measured 360 by 459 feet. The plaza measured 190 by 262 feet. 

Native residents arranged their village in concentric activity zones around the central plaza: cemetery or mortuary zone, residential zone, and trash disposal zone. Investigators estimated that 25-30 structures stood in the residential zone, housing between 150-180 people. No palisade around the village perimeter was documented. 

A low, conical earthen burial mound was located along the northwestern plaza edge. It measured 55 by 75 feet. Undoubtedly much taller originally, it stood 1.5 feet tall when recorded in 1992.

Concentric activity zones documented at Site 15Hr22.

Although some adults were buried in the mound, most adults and adolescents were interred indvidually in shallow pits next to the plaza. The dead were laid to rest on their backs in an extended position. In some cases, sever​al limestone slabs were placed over a grave. The presence of a lens of ash and burned wood directly above the slabs, and the presence of hearths adjacent to the graves, suggest that feasting and mortuary rituals took place during burial.

Investigators documented three houses at Site 15Hr22. Structure 1 was the only one they excavated complet​​ely. It measured approximately 13 by 16 feet, with the long side facing the plaza. The house was in a bas​​in, and individually-set posts lined the basin edges. The house had a prepared floor but lacked a prepared central hearth.  Pits - large shallow basins used for trash disposal - were found behind the houses.  

Mortuary, residential, and trash disposal zones associated with the midden stain at Site 15Hr22.

What's Cool?

​Household Activity

Archaeologists recovered a large section of an antler rack on the floor of the completely excavated house. All the antler tines had been removed. As work continued inside the ​house, investigators recovered several other racks that also were missing their tips.  From trash pits in back of the house, they recovered still more antler racks missing their tips.  

From the distribution of antler tines within the house, and the large number of antler racks missing their tines within and outside the house, researchers concluded that the residents made antler arrowheads in their house for use in hunting.

Outline of Structure 1. Postholes are shown in white.

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