EXCAVATIONS AT THE STANFIELD-WORLEY BLUFF SHELTER, SITE 1CT125,
COLBERT COUNTY, ALABAMA
The Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter, Site 1Ct125, was excavated under contract between the Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama and the Archaeological Research Association of Alabama, Birmingham. The site was located in Sanderson Cove along a tributary of Cane Creek in Colbert County, Alabama. Sanderson Cove opens into the Tennessee Valley approximately five miles south of the Tennessee River. Excavations took place from 1960 to 1963. Two 45 ft by 5 ft test trenches were excavated in 1960. One was perpendicular to the rear wall of the shelter, extending from the drip line to the rear wall approximately in the center of the shelter. The other was placed near the drip line along the front of the shelter, more or less parallel to the rear wall and crossing the end of the first trench to form a T. The major excavations took place in 1961. Three additional trenches were excavated parallel to the shelter wall so that three blocks 10 ft wide and 40 ft long were exposed on three sides. These blocks were then excavated. Other portions of the shelter were excavated in 1963. These areas proved to be less productive and were neither analyzed nor reported at that time.
The excavation strategy at Stanfield-Worley was termed trench and block. In the trench and block method, individual excavation blocks are isolated by trenches. This exposes the sides of each block, facilitating excavation of the block by individual soil zones or strata. The method also assists in the identification of pits and other features, animal burrows, and other intrusions which may mix materials from one zone into another. Carefully controlled excavation was especially important at Stanfield-Worley in order to separate materials found in four distinct zones. Zone A was the upper zone at the site and contained artifacts dating from later Archaic through Mississippian times. Zone B was a thin occupational zone capped in some areas by a fire-hardened occupational floor. Early through Middle Archaic artifacts were found in Zone B. Three burials in Zone B could be dated to the Middle Archaic Morrow Mountain phase. The artifacts associated with these burials included projectile points, bone awls, and other tools providing important information on artifacts dating to Morrow Mountain times. Zone C was a layer of sand which did not contain evidence of occupation. Prehistoric pits and other disturbances dug into or through Zone C were easily identified. Zone C thus capped and sealed the earliest occupations at the site and minimized any mixture of later artifacts and materials into Zone D. The lowest zone was Zone D, a dark midden which contained the remains of the earliest occupations at Stanfield-Worley. Zone D was called the Dalton zone. Dalton points were most numerous but Big Sandy points were also common. A variety of uniface tools were present; some were made on flakes, some on specialized blades. Analysis of the faunal remains showed that the animals present represented modern species but included porcupine, not now found in Alabama, and Passenger Pigeon, hunted to extinction in recent times.
Information from Zone D was used to define the Transitional Paleoindian culture of Alabama and surrounding areas. It seemed to represent a way of life between those which characterized Paleoindian or Archaic times. The first radiocarbon dates ever obtained in Alabama dated this occupation to approximately 7000 B.C. The projectile points were seen as a mix of lanceolate Paleoindian forms (Dalton) and side notched Archaic forms (Big Sandy). The uniface tools resembled those being found at Paleoindian sites. The hunted animals were similar to those of the Archaic, but evidence of shellfish collecting and seed processing, common Archaic subsistence practices, was not present.
The Stanfield-Worley collection is large. It contains 11,395 lots of specimens and totals 157 cubic feet. The specimens from each year were accessioned separately. Specimens from the 1960 and 1961 seasons were boxed by unit and level or feature. This organization was maintained during accessioning. In most cases, the bags of pottery sherds, stone tools, and lithic debitage had different Field Specimen, Pottery, or Artifact numbers, and each of these was separately accessioned. Specimens from the 1963 season were boxed by material category: pottery, worked flint, debitage, bone, shell, charcoal, etc. This separation was maintained and the artifacts were accessioned by unit and level or feature within the material categories. There are 45 folders of documents in the collection. Most of the documents are field notes and forms or artifact cards, catalogs, and tabulations. A number of large maps, profiles, and other drawings are stored in the flat files. Other documents include correspondence, draft manuscripts, and extra copies of photos and drawings for illustrations. Specimens and documents in this collection were curated with assistance of the National Endowment for the Humanities under Grant PA-50138-03. The photographs have not been accessioned. Human remains associated with this collection are located at the Laboratory for Human Osteology on the University of Alabama campus.
Click the Thumbnail Image for a Larger Picture
Specimens : 11,395 lots, complete.
Documents : 45 folders, complete.
Negatives : None cataloged.
Transparencies : None cataloged.
Benthall, Joseph L.
1965 A Study of Flint and Ceramic Relationships at Four Selected Alabama Aboriginal Sites. M.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, University.
DeJarnette, David L., Edward B. Kurjack, and James W. Cambron
1962 Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter Excavations. Journal of Alabama Archaeology 8(1-2).
1973 Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter Excavations. In The First Ten Years of the Journal of Alabama Archaeology, edited by William H. Wesley, pp. 403-523. Alabama Archaeological Society, Huntsville.
Futato, Eugene M.
1986 The Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter. In Ten Thousand Years of Alabama Prehistory: A Pictorial Resume, by Eugene M. Futato and Vernon J. Knight, Jr., pp. 1-8. Bulletin 8. Alabama State Museum of Natural History, University of Alabama, University.
1991 Lithic Resources and Late Archaic Settlement Patterns in the Western Middle Tennessee Valley. Paper presented at the 12th Mid-South Archaeological Conference, Mississippi State.
1999 Lithic Raw Materials and Settlement Patterns in the Western Middle Tennessee Valley Uplands. In Raw Materials and Exchange in the Midsouth, edited by Evan Peacock and Samuel O. Brookes, pp. 44-56. Archaeological Report 29. Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.
2004 The North Alabama Project: An AAS Excavation Scrapbook. Journal of Alabama Archaeology 50(2).
Goldman-Finn, Nurit S.
1997 Analysis of Collections from Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter, Northwest Alabama. Report submitted to the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program, New Ellenton, South Carolina by the Office of Archaeological Services, University of Alabama Museums, Tuscaloosa.
Meeks, Scott C.
1995 The “Function” of Stone Tools in Prehistoric Exchange Systems: A Look at Benton Interaction in the Midsouth. Paper presented at the 16th Midsouth Archaeological Conference, Jackson.
1998 The Use and Function of Late Middle Archaic Projectile Points in the Midsouth. M.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
1999 The “Function” of Stone Tools in Prehistoric Exchange Systems: A Look at Benton Interaction in the Mid-South. In Raw Materials and Exchange in the Mid-South, edited by Evan Peacock and Samuel O. Brookes, pp. 29-43. Archaeological Report 29. Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.
2000 The Use and Function of Late Middle Archaic Projectile Points in the Midsouth. Report of Investigations 71. Office of Archaeological Services, University of Alabama Museums, Tuscaloosa.
Parmalee, Paul W.
1963 A Prehistoric Occurrence of Porcupine in Alabama. Journal of Alabama Archaeology 9(2):88-89.
1973 A Prehistoric Occurrence of Porcupine in Alabama. In The First Ten Years of the Journal of Alabama Archaeology, edited by William H. Wesley, pp. 604-605. Alabama Archaeological Society, Huntsville.
Randall, Asa R.
2002 Technofunctional Variation in Early Side-Notched Hafted Bifaces: A View from the Middle Tennessee River Valley in Northwest Alabama. M.A.Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville.