National Register ID: 82000574
Area Of Significance: Prehistoric
Period Of Significance: 1999-1500 BC, 1499-1000 BC, 999-500 BC
Date Listed: 11/12/1982
Location: Pearlington, MS (address restricted)
Statement of Significance
The Claiborne Site (22-Ha-501) still retains the potential to provide valuable information, especially as it relates to subsistence patterns during the Poverty Point Period in a coastal situation. Test excavations conducted during the late spring and early summer of 1982 (Lauro, n.d.) have provided a large sample of faunal materials from a black earth midden. Preliminary analysis of these remains indicate a variety of species being exploited in a riverine situation. These include white tail deer, squirrel, rabbit, crane, turkey, racoon, opossum, catfish, drum, clam, and oyster. Three pieces of human crania were also recovered. Further testing should be conducted utilizing water screening techniques through fine mesh screens to recover any floral remains that may possibly be located in the midden.
Several features were recorded that have been interpreted as cooking hearths or fire pits. This fact coupled with the evidences of butchering techniques and possibly food preparation (some bone is badly charred) strengthens the value of this site regarding several aspects of the subsistence system as it relates to the Poverty Point culture in a coastal situation.
Present and Historical Appearance
The Claiborne Site is situated atop a Pleistocene terrace formation [---redacted-by-USDOI---]. Marshes fill the estuary, except for the streams. This sandy terrace has some pine and oak trees around the margin.
Originally, the Claiborne Site consisted of a large, stratified horseshoe shaped midden composed of black earth and shells of the brackish water clam Rangia cuneata, with some oyster shells. In 1967 (Gagliano and Webb, 1977) the site had an outside diameter of approximately 660 feet and an inside diameter of 460 feet. Associated with this semi-circle, due east of its center at a distance of 1,060 feet, was a small conical sand mound, now destroyed.
Since 1967, the Claiborne Site has been subjected to clearing away of topsoil in preparation for land development by the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission. The site has also suffered at the hands of relic collectors who have carted much material off to be sold to antiquities dealers in New Orleans. Rumors of buried gold during the late 1960s and early 1970s further complicated this problem. [---redacted-by-USDOI---].
The site today is considerably smaller than in 1967 when it was first mapped and tested. The present size and condition of the site have been partially determined by test excavations (1, 2 x 2 meter square; 3, 1 x 1 meter squares; and 15 deep augering to a depth of 2 meters) and an inspection of the surface manifestation of the black earth midden after the site had vegetation and underbrush cleared away by machinery. The site today runs nearly the length of the terrace bordering the gully; it is approximately 400 feet long and 75 feet wide. Black earth midden, exposed on the surface, runs from the surface to depths between 1-3/4 feet to 4 feet deep. This black earth midden contains tremendous amounts of faunal materials, artifacts, and features.
VERBAL BOUNDARY DESCRIPTION AND JUSTIFICATION: [---redacted-by-USDOI---]
(Details and text copied from National Register nomination form)