Prehistoric Cremation Burial, Brewster County

2009

In early 2009, while conducting a reconnaissance on private property in Brewster County, CBBS staff located a natural crevice between large boulders that contained what appeared to be a man-made cairn of stones. The presence of a portable slab metate in the upper reaches of the cairn, metate grinding surfaces on several adjacent boulders, and what was later identified as a human tibia fragment just outside of the crevice strongly suggested this was a crevice burial. While the CBBS has documented crevice burial findings made by looters in the past, CBBS had never excavated such an interment.

The excavated crevice, filled with variously sized stones and about 1.5 m deep, had an amorphous shape measuring approximately 1.1 x 1.8 m. Among and beneath the rubble and small boulders comprising the cairn were the partial remains of a single individual. The burial was a secondary interment, as all of the recovered bone fragments were apparently burned at a relatively high temperature in another location before being scattered in the lower reaches of the cairn and crevice. Dr. Jennifer Piehl conducted a skeletal analysis of the remains, and despite the lack of markers of sex and age, was able to determine that the individual was very gracile and had reached adulthood. A fragmentary and incompletely burned left femur from the interment was submitted for radiocarbon dating and yielded a bone collagen date of A.D. 1480—1640. Although the sex of the individual could not be determined from the available remains, the presence of the metate in the cairn and several metate grinding surfaces adjacent to it suggest the interment was that of a female. Importantly, this is the first documented cremated burial in the region. The site area was photographed and mapped through the innovative and cutting edge approach by consultant Mark Willis, who utilized blimp aerial photography. An article documenting the investigation in in progress.


Archaeologist, Bobby Gray, colleting site information
View of site being documented
Site map