Unique findings dating back 12 thousand years uncovered in Kistachie National Forest

Unique findings dating back 12 thousand years uncovered in Kistachie National Forest
Unique findings dating back 12 thousand years uncovered in Kistachie National Forest
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:29 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Vernon Parish, LA (KPLC) - Archeologists are working on a site in the Kistachie National Forest discovering prehistoric artifacts from thousands of years ago, and uncovering history.

In the middle of the forest, a history lesson with some of the earliest documentation of Native American occupation of the land.

“It’s kind of like a mystery. You’re picking up puzzle pieces and you’re putting them together and you’re trying to reconstruct what people were doing, trying to tell a story, how did people live in the past,” University of Louisiana Lafayette project director Erland Johnson said.

Archaeologists said it could be one the oldest sites in western Louisiana, about 100 acres of the Kisatchie National Forest.

“Just being in there moving a shovel and seeing a round circular hole underneath and you’re like ‘oh that’s something that’s connected to the past’,” University of Louisiana Lafayette anthropology student Gloria Church said. “It’s connected to a village, a civilization, and anything that could have been living here at the time or peoples who you know had their own lives their own realities.”

Church explained those round circular holes or post holes indicate evidence of a permanent structure.

And that’s what makes the finding here so unique. It was previously believed that people would only come through as hunter-gatherers for short periods of time but now there’s new evidence indicating permanent structures.

“The fact that we found a permanent structure out here - that calls some of that into question,” Johnson said.

With findings dating back as old as 12,000 years, it tells us about some of the earliest peoples who lived in Louisiana.

“To have a site that has the complete sequence of humans all the way from the Ice Age up to the turn of the century here,” forest archaeologist Matt Helmer said. “This was a pretty important spot. We’re on a really high bluff, sitting on a creek so this would have been a nice point to set up a habitation site.”

The site has even had “looters” trying to dig up artifacts and sell them for money. Helmer said those who’ve done so have been prosecuted.

Spending weeks excavating and searching for more history the Kisatchie National Forest is partnered with the University of Louisiana Lafayette’s public archaeology lab for this project.

They remove the soil in layers from the testing pit collecting dirt to put in a bucket and then dump it into the screen and then sift through every grain of soil looking for artifacts.

Aside from the post holes, many of the findings include clay pieces, tools, or even fragments of materials used to shape tools.

“When you find one of those old points, you hold it in your hand and you think somebody was holding this you know 10 thousand years ago,” Johnson said. “Can you really even conceive of that?”

Once they wrap up fieldwork in a few weeks, the findings will be studied in the lab to better understand the life that was once here.