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Archaeologists investigate the Hedden site


Site ID: 15McN81

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
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​​​​​​The Hedden site sat on an upland ridgetop a few miles southwest of Paducah, Kentucky. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Wilbur Smith Consulting investigated the site intensively in the 1990s.  Midden deposits at this Late Archaic site produced an abundance of artifacts and burned plant remains.  ​​

One of several large cooking pits documented at the Hedden site.


​Diagnostic spear points from Hedden showed that Native Americans lived there primarily during the Late Archaic.  Of note were several large cooking and storage pits.  These pits, along with the site's intact midden (trash) deposits, suggested that it was a repeatedly and intensively occupied base camp. 

During seasonal visits to the site, Native people focused on collecting and processing nuts.  Wetland plants also appear to have been part of their diet. The availability of wetland plants during the winter months made them good food resources when other plant foods were scarce. 

Late Archaic spear points recovered from the Hedden site.

What's Cool?

​Ba​ked Clay Objects

Investigators recovered more than 150 baked clay objects from the Hedden site.  These objects tended to be small and mostly yellowish brown to reddish brown in color. Some had clearly recognizable exterior surfaces. There were at least two standard types: cylindrical grooved examples and sphere-like examples​. 

These types of objects are much more common in the lower Mississippi Valley. Thus, the recovery of baked clay objects from Hedden suggests​​ that groups living in the lower Ohio Valley were culturally connected in some way to people living in the lower Mississippi Valley. In fact, several thousand baked clay objects have been recovered from the Poverty Point site in Louisiana.

Although archaeologists have yet to determine the function of these objects, some think Native peoples used them in hot rock cooking instead ​​​​of stones.  Others have noted the high degree of standardization in the form of these objects.  This has led researchers to suggest that baked clay objects represent mementos of long-distance pilgrimages to Poverty Point.

Baked clay objects recovered from the Hedden site.

Examples of baked clay objects recovered from sites in the Mississippi Valley.

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