Evaluation Criteria



 Geography and  Environmental Conditions  

 Chronological  Considerations 

 Initial Human Occupation 

 Widespread Settlement 

 Terminal Paleoindian  Occupations 

 Initial Holocene Early  Archaic Assemblages 

 Property Types 

 Resource Distribution 

 Research Needs and  Questions 

 Evaluation Criteria 

 Possible NHLs in the  Southeast 


 Annotated References 

 References Cited 


For specific properties, NRHP and NHL evaluation should proceed by first completing a property designation matrix, which provides a basic overview of condition and research potential, and can serve as a guide to the preparation of detailed nomination statements. Procedures by which the matrix is to be used are provided elsewhere, in the national context. How specific research questions and themes outlined in the matrix apply to southeastern Paleoindian properties, however, were discussed previously in this regional context.

NHL Property Type and Integrity
Linked with the evaluation of specific NHL property classes and categories is an assessment of their integrity. Property integrity refers to the physical condition of the remains under investigation, that is, their preservation, context, and ability to contribute important information. Assessing property integrity is thus a crucial aspect of the evaluation of NRHP and NHL status. To be considered eligible for inclusion on the NRHP or designation as an NHL, Paleoindian properties must possess deposits with sufficient integrity to yield information capable of identifying discrete periods of occupation or utilization, property function or type, and have clearly defined boundaries.

Three levels of integrity are employed in the present NHL theme study, High, Moderate, and Low. Properties whose integrity is High are potential NHLs or have national-level NRHP significance. Sites with High integrity have clearly identified Paleoindian component(s) in secure context, and with precise calendric dating. That is, the geologic and sedimentary context of the assemblage(s) are well documented, with sources of intrusion or disturbance recognized and controlled, and the age of the deposits ascertained using one or more absolute dating procedures, such as radiocarbon or OSL dating. Sufficient age determinations must, however, have been obtained from samples in secure context to ensure confidence in the results. Individual dates, accordingly, or even large numbers of dates from controversial associations, will probably not be considered sufficient, unless supported by other kinds of evidence, such as unambiguous geological or biotic associations. Where materials for absolute dating are not available, the assemblage(s) must be of highly unusual significance. In the Southeast, properties with high integrity and national level significance include Cactus Hill, Sloan, Dust Cave, and various sites in the Allendale, South Carolina, Aucilla River, Florida, Christian County, Kentucky, and Nottoway River, Virginia localities.

Properties whose integrity is Moderate are potential NHLs or have national- or state-level NRHP significance. Sites with Moderate integrity have Paleoindian component(s) that are to some extent mixed with later materials, in moderately secure context, and with relative rather than absolute dating. That is, the geologic and sedimentary context may be somewhat uncertain, with some mixing or reworking of the deposits. Control for disturbance is less secure. The age of the deposits is also somewhat less secure, and may depend upon stratigraphic relationships, seriation, or cross-dating with materials securely dated elsewhere. That is, sites with Dalton points are assumed to date between ca. 10,500 and 9,900 rcbp/12,500 to 11,250 B.P., regardless of where they are found, because that is the age range currently accepted based on an evaluation of known dates and contexts (Goodyear 1982). As we have seen, however, the actual temporal occurrence for Dalton points appears to vary appreciably, and may extend well beyond these inferred starting and ending dates, making use of cross-dating less secure than absolute dating. Southeastern sites with moderate integrity are widespread, and include most assemblages found on conflated surfaces, where distinguishing Paleoindian remains from materials dating later is sometimes difficult or impossible. The Quad locality in northern Alabama, which yielded numerous Paleoindian points, but also tens of thousands of later diagnostics as well, is one such example.

Properties whose integrity is Low are not considered NHL candidates. If they were to be considered eligible for inclusion on the NRHP, it would probably be at the state or local level of significance. Sites with Low integrity have presumed Paleoindian components that are in highly disturbed context, and whose age may be uncertain or questionable. Lithic scatters lacking diagnostics, absolute dates, or sound stratigraphic contexts are examples of such sites, as are sites with diagnostics whose deposits are severely disturbed or are thoroughly mixed with materials of later periods. Sites yielding low numbers of Paleoindian points as well as later materials in surface context would tend to have Low integrity.

Isolated diagnostic projectile point finds, of which thousands are known from the Southeast, are a special Paleoindian property class of great importance for research purposes, but whose integrity is considered Low, and hence have minimal potential for inclusion on the NRHP, or designation as an NHL. Isolated finds are thus typically not considered eligible for inclusion on the NRHP, unless the artifact itself is of exceptional significance. There is one exception to this. Groups of culturally related but otherwise isolated Paleoindian remains found in connection with diagnostic land-forms or other paleogeological, geomorphological, or paleoenvironmental contexts may be nominated as contributing properties within a district. That is, isolated finds, taken collectively, may under certain conditions (i.e., high density, significant paleoenvironmental associations) be considered important enough to warrant inclusion on the NRHP or as part of an NHL.

Evaluation Standards: NRHP Criteria
Although NHL designation is not the same thing as NRHP status, any successful NHL nomination will also have to meet NRHP criteria. Explicit criteria by which Paleoindian properties may be considered eligible for inclusion on the NRHP have been presented in a number of southeastern state historic contexts (e.g., Anderson and Sassaman 1992; Broster 1987; Davis 1982; Dunbar n.d.; McGahey n.d.; Smith et al. 1983; Tankersley 1990a; Wittkovski and Reinhart 1989), and are summarized here. The presence of any of the following characteristics on southeastern sites yielding Paleoindian artifacts would tend to automatically make them eligible for inclusion on the NRHP:

  1. Intact buried deposits, particularly assemblages yielding features or preserved floral and faunal remains, and materials suitable for radiocarbon or multiple dating procedures. These types of sites are extremely rare at this time level in the Southeast, as well as anywhere in Eastern North America.

  2. Stratified deposits, with components that can be isolated horizontally or vertically. This would facilitate detailed examination of single periods of occupation.

  3. Major quarry sites with extensive reduction or manufacturing debris, and evidence for utilization during the Paleoindian period.

  4. Areally extensive surface scatters from plowzone or eroded upland context, particularly if evidence for artifact relocation beyond more than a few meters is minimal. Controlled surface collection procedures can recover discrete occupational episodes or activity areas on sites of this kind. Barnett Shoals, Wells Creek Crater, and Williamson are two examples of major southeastern Paleoindian sites where extensive information has been found in plowzone context (Dragoo 1973; McCary 1951, 1975, 1991; O'Steen et al. 1986).

To these attributes can be added consideration of Glassow's (1977) criteria by which site significance can be assessed, as discussed in the national context chapter (see also Butler 1987).

The presence of any of the following characteristics tends to automatically make a southeastern site yielding Paleoindian materials ineligible for inclusion on the NRHP:

  1. Sites consisting only of a single isolated artifact. Little information beyond that obtained at the time of collection can be derived from such assemblages. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that the presence of other deposits has been ruled out. Isolates may be the only detected evidence of a complex site.

  2. Heavily disturbed surface scatters. This does not include plowzone scatters, from which significant assemblage and intra-site distributional information can be recovered, given careful data collection. Care must be taken when examining presumably disturbed deposits to ensure that the presence of undisturbed deposits has been completely ruled out.

  3. Sites damaged by cultural or natural factors to the extent that deposit integrity is destroyed.

Detailed reasons why sites meet NRHP or NHL eligibility status should accompany all such determinations, and should be expressed in terms of how they can yield information important to history or prehistory. Given how rare Paleoindian sites are in the region, full justification should also be provided when Paleoindian properties are determined to be ineligible for inclusion on the NRHP, or for designation as an NHL.

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