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Late Woodland Cordmarked and Decorated Ceramics

McGilligan Creek

Site ID: 15Lv199

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


​​​​​​​​​​​​​McGilligan Creek Village sits on a blufftop in Livingston County not far from the Ohio River.  With sheer cliffs on all sides, the blufftop is difficult to access, and so, too, is the site. There are only two ways up or down: the entrance way on the southeastern side and a lesser access point on the eastern side.  

Limited investigations at the site in the 1990s documented intact early Late Woodland (500-800 AD) midden deposits in a ring surrounding a central plaza. Archaeologists and volunteers from the Kentucky Chapter of The Nature Conservancy documented posts from houses and hearths within the midden ring. Village residents buried some of their dead in stone mounds at the base of the bluff​.   ​

One of several stone burial mounds below the blufftop village.


​Investigators recovered more than 9,000 fragments of Native-made ceramic vessels from the site. All represented fairly thin-walled, c​onoidal (shaped like a cone) or globular (roughly spherical)​​ jars.  Most vessel exteriors were cordmarked, although a few fragments of plain-surfaced and check stamped vessels were recovered. Check stamped vessel exteriors are covered with lines of rectangular impressions, called "checks."  On some jars, Native potters notched the vessel lip and incised geometric lines on the exterior below the lip. Spear points were mainly Lowe Flared Base.  

Animal bones indicated that site residents exploited deer, raccoon, turkey, and other smaller mammals, as well as a variety of turtles, fish, and shellfish.  Plant remains revealed that residents collected hickory nuts, black walnuts, acorns, and pecans. The recovery of domesticated maygrass and goosefoot seeds - starchy examples of the Eastern Agricultural Complex - indicated that residents engaged in gardening. 

Thin cordmarked jar rims, with notched lips and incised designs.

What's Cool?

​Working the Soil

The recovery of Eastern Agricultural Complex plant seeds from McGilligan Creek Village was not the only evidence for Native gardening. Investigators also found 29 polished chert flakes, likely from chipped stone hoes.  

As part of gardening activities, Native gardeners used stone hoes to dig and work the soil. Repetitive contact with the soil created a sheen or polish on a hoe's working edge. It also eventually dulled the edge.  So, Native gardeners resharpened their hoes, and produced flakes that bore the polish.  

Over time, resharpening reduced hoe size. Eventually, residents discarded or repurposed their hoes.

Lowe Flared Base spear points.

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