Archaeological Dig Yields Artifacts Near New Lake Barkley Bridge

May 5, 2015

University of Kentucky archaeologists are finishing their dig at a prehistoric Native American campsite on the edge of Lake Barkley in Canton. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet found the site during land analysis for a new bridge.

Lead Archaeologist Mickey Loughlin said this site ranks high in importance on a 1-10 scale.

“Its never going to be as spectacular as a large mound center like Wickliffe or Cahokia or something like that,” Loughlin said. “But the amount of information that we’ll be able to extract out of here is highly important. I mean I would put this at an 8 or 9 in terms of understanding that particular time period.”

The site’s artifacts include stone shards, spear tips and grinding stones and date back to 8,000-6,000 B.C. during the Early Archaic period.

“We thought we were only gonna be out here several weeks. And then, the site kept getting better and better and we kept finding things and finding things. And so, we’ve had the opportunity to stay out here and excavate for much longer than we originally thought we would. It’s been a very very exciting opportunity to be able to work on it,” Loughlin said.

Most models of the Early Archaic time period revolve around small nomadic groups, but Loughlin said findings at the site indicate multiple groups formed temporary residential camps at Canton for centuries.

The National Historic Preservation Act requires the Transportation Cabinet to limit construction impact on sites like the one in Canton.  Spokesman Keith Todd said the excavation hasn’t delayed construction of the new bridge.