Introduction to 46PU31
In 1936 Leslie A. Martin and Elmer Fetzer decided to investigate and record their findings at the site which was to become 46PU31.
The work of Fetzer and Martin at this site (and the Clover Site), supplied James Griffin with the only information on the cultural manifestation
known as "Fort Ancient" in West Virginia, for his (Griffin's) book titled the The Fort Ancient Aspect. It should be kept in mind that these
individuals worked prior to the development of the trinomial system for recording sites as well as many of the later developed protocols for
investigating archaeological sites and remains. They relied heavily on intuitive observations that are relevant to any investigations at the
Buffalo Site. Their work predated that of McMichaels and Broyles by some thirty years. One item of interest is the description of a shell ornament,
Fig.2-B, which is a "weeping eye "shell gorget, not officially described until the 1940's.
The Buffalo Site 1936
by L.A. Martin
Description of Camp Site
(near Buffalo, Putnam County, West Virginia)
This site, which has been a source of Indian relics for a considerable period of years, is located on the north side of the Kanawha River
about twenty-nine miles from Charleston and about three miles from Buffalo. It is now a part of several farms, but was originally obtained
by the Early family shortly after 1800 and has been under cultivation since that date. The position of the field or site proper and on which
most of the articles are found is low bottom land covering an area of about 300' x 1000'. Some articles, mostly projectile points, have been
found on a second level of land about thirty feet higher and which extends back about a quarter of a mile to the hills. The field is covered
with fragments of mussel shells, bones, broken pottery and other camp debris. It has been found that the field contains burials in addition
to ash pits.
We first investigated the surface in 1929, permission not being obtainable to dig at that time. However, this was obtained in 1936 and a number
of ash pits were excavated, revealing at that same time that the field also contained a number of burials. The field has yielded objects of
hematite such as plummets, hemispheres and celts, and other of cannel coal, shell and the usual flint and bone implements and several pipes.
The surface finds are probably the result of cultivation, having been scattered from the ash pits. Natives of this section, state that in the
early days they recalled seeing in the center of this field a circle of raised earth, presumably, in their opinion, a fort. Cultivation,
however, has leveled this all off and no indication is now apparent of such an earth work. There are several small elevations about 400
feet in diameter and 18 inches high which will be described in a later paragraph. This field has been covered by both myself and by
Mr. E. W. Fetzer, as well as Mr. Oscar Mairs. Mr. Fetzer has made numerous excavations. These excavations, including two burials, are
the only ones that have been made. The articles described in the following paragraphs are now in our collections and are available for
Numerous arrow-heads have been found of all types, although the small triangular type seems to be the most predominant. Arrow-heads were found both on the surface and in the ash pits. Occasionally crude flint celts and implements of a larger variety are found, the better ones have been picked up by the farmers and collectors during the past few years. The smaller flint objects, particularly the triangular projectile points, are of a much better workmanship and grade of material than are usually found on other sites along the Kanawha River.
Celts and Axes
Very few stone celts and no grooved axes have been found by us, apparently having all been picked up by the farmers during the extensive period of cultivation. to my knowledge, only one grooved axe has been found on this site. Small hematite celts about 1 inch in width and from 1 to 2 inches in length are more numerous. Most of these have been found on the surface although several were found in the excavation of an ash pit by Mr. Fetzer.
Two small plummets have been found, both of hematite. These plummets have grooves around the centers, one being conical in shape on both ends and the other almost square in cross sections and more crudely made. They are about 1 1/2 inches in length. to our knowledge, no stone plummets have been found.
This field has yielded a number of discoidals, ranging from small crude flat sandstone discoidals about 1/2 inch in diameter to a larger sandstone
discoidal about 2 inches in diameter, and a few from pot sherds. The smaller are merely unpolished sandstone discs while the largest has been
cupped on both sides with a pronounced raised edge and drilled through the center. This discoidal, Fig.3-G, is about 2
inches in diameter and 5/8 inch thick at the edge. A few pottery discs, some perforated, about 1 inch in diameter, have been found, and several of
cannel coal about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. These were all surface finds with the exception of a broken cannel coal disc found in an ash pit.|
Two types of pipes have been found in this field, vase-shaped and a handled variety, two complete vase-shaped pipes having been found
and one handled pipe. A small hematite pipe, vase-shaped, about 1 1/2 inches high and about 1 inch in diameter,
Fig. 3-A, was found by a farmer an indeterminable number of years ago. In 1930 another pipe of pebbled
white quartz was found. This one,Fig. 1-A, in of the handled variety, having a rectangular top 2 inches by
about 1 inch with a projection at the back of the pipe extending downward about 2 1/2 inches. Both of the above pipes were surface finds.
A third pipe was found by Mr. Fetzer in 1935 in the excavation of an ash pit. This pipe, Fig. 5-A, is of the same general shape as the
hematite pipe, being slightly larger in diameter and about 2 1/2 inches high and made of limestone.
One unfinished pipe, Fig. 4-A, also a surface find, and which presumably, when completed would have been the same type as the
quartz pipe heretofore described, was found on the surface. A fragment of another pipeFig. 2-A, of limestone, which apparently
was also a handled pipe, was found. The handle was broken off leaving only the top of the pipe with the hole for the bowl.
Also what is probably a fragment of a pottery shell tempered pipe stem was found.
Probably the two best and most interesting specimens of ornaments from this site, both surface finds, and found by farmers in the past
years, were two shell objects. One, Fig.1-B, a concave piece about
2 inches in diameter, having three holes drilled in it, two holes being drilled through the shell near the edge in the manner of regular
holes for suspension, with a third hole drilled perpendicularly through the thickness of the shell, at the edge between the two other drilled
holes and ending on the inner portion of the shell between the two other holes. The other piece,
Fig. 2-B, is a rectangular piece about 2 3/4 inches high and about 2 1/4 inches wide at the top and narrowing down to about
1 1/2 inches at the bottom. This piece can best be described as generally resembling a face, there being four holes, two of which in the top
or large portion would be in about the same location as eyes, while two other holes in a perpendicular line at a point lower than the two
eye holes, completing the nose and mouth. To complete the resemblance to a face, about half way down the sides of this shell it has been
tapered in the general manner of a jaw bone. Whether or not this has been intended to represent a face cannot be said, however, the
resemblance is striking and should be noted.|
Fig. 1-C A third piece,
found on the surface, is a small lead (galenite) bar gorget about 1 7/8 inches long, 7/8 inch wide and 3/4 inch high at the peak, two holes
being drilled from the base to the top. This piece was not found on the principal site but was in a draw or gulley extending back through
the raised portion of the area noted before.
| Cannel coal beads or small pendants are found on this location, the majority of which are of a claw shape,
Fig. 3-C. However, one has been found in the shape of a small pendant,
Fig. 2-C, 1 1/2 inches long expanding in the center and pointed at each end.|
| A third type was found in an ash pit,Fig. 4-C. This was a rather large
curved piece about 1 1/2 inches long similar to the claw type with the exception that a groove was made around the center portion and no drilling
was made for suspension. Drilled teeth and claws have also been found. One large bear tusk, Fig. 4-D, taken out of an ash pit, was
decorated with turkey feet engravings. Bone beads of various types up to large and highly polished beads 3/4 inch in diameter and 1 inch
long have also been found, although in no great quantity. Several knuckle bones cut off and drilled through the top were found in the ash pits.
|A small slate pendant, Fig. 5-C (obverse & reverse scanned image)
, a surface find, about 2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide with a hole drilled through
the top edge has engraved on it two very crude drawings of birds, one on either side of the pendant. These drawings are very poorly executed,
apparently being scratched on with some sharp implement, and almost invisible at first glance. Smaller shell, Figs. 3-C, 4-C, and
5-C, pendants have also been found on the surface and in the ash pits. One drilled pearl and one undrilled pearl were ash pit finds.
Mr. Fetzer, in the excavation of one of the raised mounds of earth found an interesting pendant or decorative piece made from a portion of a
turtle shell, Fig. 8-G. This piece is white and very hard and measures about 1 inch by 1 1/4 inch.
Another piece, Fig. 1-G, found was a shell object 1/8 inch square, 2 1/2 inches long with a hole drilled through one end.||
The ash pits yielded quite a few bone implements and other objects. Split bone awls, Fig. 1-E, 6 inches in length,
and awls similar to those shown in Fig. 4-E are found.
|Also a bone antler about 4 inches long and worked down to a cutting or celt-like edge, Fig. 6-E, was an
ash pit find. Several bone arrow-heads have been found and portions of bone flutes.|
Mr. Fetzer found an antler in an ash pit which was worked down into what can best be described or likened to the spike on a helmet.
This piece, Fig. 1-D, had been drilled and hollowed out and a hole drilled from the outside to
the center near the open end. It is about 3 inches long and 1 inch in diameter at the rim with a maximum diameter of 1 1/2 inches at
the largest portion. It was probably intended as a banner piece. A long bone tube, Fig.5-D,
about six inches long and 3/6 inch in diameter, well polished all over, was found by Mr. Fetzer in an ash pit. It has been suggested that
this tube might be a surgical implement as one end is sharpened in the manner of a disc. A hollow bone tube about 5 inches long and 3/16
inch in diameter was found. This might have been a pipe stem, as no other use is apparent. A bone implement, probably a celt or spatula
about 5 inches by 1 inch in size was uncovered by Mr. Fetzer. Other fragmentary finds consisted of partially worked bone, such as a bone,
Fig. 7-D, from which the large bone beads were apparently being made as the
same had been grooved at various points along its length apparently at the places where each respective bead was to have been broken off;
a portion of another bone, Fig. 7-C,about 3 inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter had a deep spiral
groove engraved around it; a portion of a rib bone, Fig. 6-C, also having a series of grooves along one side of it.
|Another bone piece, Fig. 2-G found in an ash pit was the half of a very thin hollow bone about 2 inches by 1/2 inch wide. While
this piece was apparently complete and shows once polished, its probable use could not be determined.
The ash pits have yielded large quantities of broken shell tempered pottery, the majority of which is the black cord imprinted type,
although some smooth red-colored ware, and what has been described as elmbark ware. No complete pots have ever been found.
Figs. 1-F to 3-F show several unusual pottery finds.
Various pottery sherds were collected during the 1936 dig and have been scanned in as examples of rim sherds,
surface treatment, decorations, handles and lugs.All of course, were shell tempered,
and exhibited a wide range of vessel size, shape and treatment. Some individual samples include centimeter scales. - DHM
Although skeletons have been plowed out in the past years, only one burial has been completely excavated and
that by Mr. Fetzer. The burial was of a single person. The body appeared to have been twisted, i.e., from the pelvic structure up it
was on its right side, with the head turned down, the right arm flexed with the hand near the head. The left arm was apparently across
the body. The lower extremities were also flexed, as in the position of a person reclining on his back with the knees elevated.
The feet were about 10 inches below the level of the knees. This burial was about 14 inches from the top of the ground. Near the
head was a single bone bead, about 1/2 inch by 5/8 inch. Near the ankles was found a bone plug, Fig. 3-D, about 1 1/4 inches long
with rounding ends and completely polished. Some animal bones, a few pot sherds, but no charcoal was found with the burial.
A second burial was recently found but it was badly mutilated by the plow and in such a poor condition that the presence of portions
of the skull and a few chest bones indicated that it was a burial. About a dozen small flat shell beads were found underneath the jaw bone.
It has been suggested that this might have been a re-burial in as much as a considerable portion of the major bones of the body were missing,
such as vertebrae and the larger bones of the extremities, etc.
Mr. Fetzer, who has spent considerable time in digging on this field, has written the following description of these ash pits:
"There appears to have been a number of storage pits for mussels. These yielded nothing but almost solid shell and were about two
feet in diameter and two feet deep. Many of the shells found here were unopened and included many small shells. One of these pits
proved to be an exception, yielding two pearls, one an undrilled slug and the other a charred drilled pearl. These were found on top
of the shell pit a very short distance the plow line."
There are several small elevations on this site which are either camp refuse heaps or habitation sites. They are approximately forty
feet in diameter and now about 18 inches high. It was in the excavation of one of these that the pipe, Fig. 5-A
, and the bone objects, Figs. 1-D, 5-D, 6-C, 7-C, etc. were found. A cross section of the soil is about the same as a small ash pit.
These pits extended down about 2 feet in depth. the bottom 6 inches is ash with charcoal, with corn cobs and hickory nuts found intermingled.
The next layer consists of usual sherd, bones, and shell. The top layer, ic., the layer under the plow line, again contains ash, and shell
and bone fragments. It is in this top layer that most of the better objects were found.
Acknowledgment is made to Mr. E. W. Fetzer for his sketches and his able assistance in the preparation of this report.
Leslie A. Martin
February 14, 1936
Since the preparation of these notes, another type of pipe has been found on this site.The material is also new, or not usual at
leaat to my knowledge to this territory. This pipe, Fig. 4-G, is of light red pipestone and measures about 2-1/4 inch in
depth with a rectangular top 3/4 x 1/2 inch, narrowing down to a 3/4 inch x 1/4 inch rectangle. The pipe stem hole is drilled
upward from the undecorated side to meet the bowl drilling; a design was inscribed on the front side. A piece has been broken out of
the bowl rim.|
A small copper pendant, about 3/4 inch wide, 1-3/4 inches long
and approximately 1/64 inch in thickness was found on this site recently.
This pendant, Fig. 5-G, seems to have been made from a very thin smooth
sheet of copper, and has serrated edges.