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Miles Rockshelter site

Miles Rockshelter

Site ID: 15Jf671

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


​​​​​​​​​​​Miles Rockshelter is located​ in Cedar Creek Valley in southern Jefferson County.  In 1998, Louisville archaeologists professionally investigated the site prior to the start of the Cedar Creek Residential Relocation Project - a noise mitigation project associated with an expansion of the Louisville International Airport.

The rockshelter sits near the top of a southwest-northeast trending bluffline.  Its maximum height is 6 feet. The shelter interior measures 70 feet long and eight feet deep.​ Although different Native groups used Miles Rockshelter ​​for more than 6000 years, the most intensive occupation took place during the Late Archaic period (3000-1000 BC).

Archaeologists document the Miles Rockshelter site.


​​From the analysis of diagnostic tools, it is clear that Native peoples first occupied the shelter around 4500 BC (Middle Archaic).  The number and intensity of visits increased around 3000 BC (Late Archaic). Late Archaic Stemmed spear points were the main point/knife type used at that time. 

Human activity continued at the site during the Terminal Archaic (1400-1000 BC), Early Woodland  (1000-200 BC) and Middle Woodland (200 BC-500 AD) periods.  There appears to have been a break in site use during the Late Woodland period (500-1000 AD), but Native peoples returned during the Mississippian period (1000-1750 AD).​​

It is tempting to suggest that rockshelters were just one among several sites used by local Native hunter-gatherers during their annual seasonal cycle. But it is by no means clear that groups occupied shelters only seasonally.  

Native peoples lived at Miles Rockshelter at least in the fall and possibly into the winter. They used it for shelter as a hunting campsite, but they processed nuts at the site, too. There is also evidence that site residents collected river mussels - a late summer to fall activity.  

Falls of the Ohio Region Native groups may have moved throughout this resource-rich area​​ seasonally, but there is no reason to think that all shelters were abandoned during a particular season.  Native peoples may have used shelters as camp sites or food procurement sites throughout the year.  With numerous ecozones close to each other in the Falls Region, perhaps natural resources were so abundant that Native peoples were less seasonally mobile during the Late Archaic.

Late Archaic Stemmed McWhinney spear points.

What's Cool?

Engraved Bone Pins

Archaeologists recovered a bone​​ pin from Miles Rockshelter.  Engraved with a concentric step design, the pin is identical to engraved bone pins found at two other sites in the Falls Region.​  

Native people made bone pins from white-tailed deer long bones.  They split the long bone lengthwise into thin pieces, and ground down each piece until it was smooth.​​ 

Bone pins may have held a person’s hair in place. Native peoples also could have used these pins to fasten clothing together, like a button or a safety pin. ​​ 

A bone pin’s shape, style, and decoration may have been linked to family membership or ancestry.  During the Late Archaic, decorated bone pins may have held important symbolic or ritual meaning. 

A bone pin in two pieces, with engraved geometric designs.

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