Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
Archaeologists investigate the Judd site


Site ID: 15Cu111

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


​​​​The Judd site sat on a toe slope at the base of an upland ridge overlooking a marshy intermittent tributary of Lewis Creek.  Archaeologists excavated the site prior to construction of the U.S. Highway 61 realignment.  These investigations recovered a large number of spear points from a relatively small area, and documented several large pits and large post holes.  

Diagnostic spear points and radiocarbon dates obtained on charcoal samples from three of the large pits suggested that Native peoples repeatedly occupied the Judd site from Early Archaic to Late Woodland times, but occupied it most intensively during the Middle Archaic period (6000-4000 BC).

Kirk Corner Notched spear points.


​The recovery of a large number of Kirk Corner Notched spear points from the site initially led archaeologists to think that Native hunter-gatherers first occupied and most intensively used the site from 7000 to 6000 BC.  But when researchers learned that these points were associated with ca. 5500 BC radiocarbon dates, they began to question their assumption.  Eventually, they concluded that Native flintknappers had made Kirk Corner Notched spear points​ for longer than investigators had thought. 

Another unusual aspect of the Judd site was that most of the Kirk Corner Notched points came from two very large pits.  Each pit had straight sides, a flat bottom, and a diameter of over 6 feet. Native inhabitants had dug both to a depth of more than four feet below the surface.  Pits of this size are rare at Early and Middle Archaic sites. 

What also made these pits unusual was evidence that poles - extending beyond the pit bottom - had once stood inside them.  Such poles are rare at sites occupied before the Woodland period.

Profile of a large pit, showing (at the bottom, right side) where a pole extending below the pit bottom once stood.

What's Cool?

​​Sacred Poles?

Archaeologists wondered how the site's early Middle Archaic residents had used the two large pits and poles.  Two lines of evidence suggested that they had used them in group-related ritual activities. First, there was no evidence that the site residents had used the pits for storage.  Second, there was no evidence that the poles were parts of structures, and thus the pits were not sections of shelter basins.  

This interpretation raised the possibility that pole ceremonialism had a long history in Kentucky, and in the Eastern Woodlands in general - much longer than previously thought.  Prior to the Judd site investigations, such features were only known from Middle Woodland, Fort Ancient, and Mississippian sites in Kentucky.  The presence of these pits and poles at Judd suggest that archaeologists working in Kentucky need to be on the look-out for these types of pit-and-pole associations when they investigate Archaic sites, too​.

Large pit showing where two poles had once stood, and extended below the base of the pit.

Related Materials

Keep the Search Alive!