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Archaeologist investigate Military Wall

Military Wall

Site ID: 15Po282

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


​​Military Wall Rockshelter is in the Red River Gorge.  It is situated within a high, east-facing sandstone cliffline.  At its mid-section, the shelter provided roughly 25 feet of protective overhang extending from the back wall.  In the center of the shelter, the floor is relatively flat and spacious, but several large boulders also are present in this area.  The shelter has a maximum ceiling height of 85 feet.  

Limited archaeological investigations at the site in 2000 documented intact cultural deposits below the surface. These included black, organically enriched soils - the by-product of plant food processing - and an earth oven.  Based on radiocarbon dates from the site, archaeologists determined that Native peoples used this site primarily from the end of the Late Archaic to the beginning of the Early Woodland (1200-800 BC).

An archaeologist excavating a unit.


​Throughout its history of use, Native Americans occupied the shelter repeatedly, but these were short stays.  They did not leave behind large quantities of items linked to everyday domestic activities, like chipped stone tools and debris from tool making and maintenance, fragments of pottery, or food remains such as animal bones.  

Instead, they left behind large quantities of diverse plant remains. The seeds of native cultigens were well-represented: goosefoot, maygrass, marshelder, erect knotweed, and sunflower. Also present were nuts, like hickory and walnut, and the seeds of wild plants, like grape, amaranth, blackberry, and sumac.  

While at the site, Native peoples appear to have processed plants for later use - perhaps in the late fall or winter.

Archaeologists investigate Military Wall Rockshelter.

What's Cool?

​Intense Plant Processing

Native groups apparently processed diverse plant foods fairly intensively while at Military Wall Rockshelter. These included wild plants they collected from localities nearby as well as domesticated native plants they grew in nearby gardens.  

Archaeologists recovered almost 1000 maygrass seeds from the site!  Maygrass was an important plant food that Native groups grew. ​The seeds from this nutritious plant contain more protein and fat than other ​non-native, domesticated grains, such as corn, wheat, and barley. 

Charred maygrass seeds.

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