The Cooper Site

The Cooper site is a Folsom age site containing three bison kill episodes. It is located along the Beaver River in northwest Oklahoma. The existence at the site of three kill events is supported by geomorphology of the arroyo, sedimentation, stratigraphy, superimpositioning of weathered bone surfaces, morphology of trampled bone, variation in lithic assemblages, and variation in bison growth and size. The relationship between the intact primary deposits on the ancient gully floor and the secondary slump deposits on and within the Beaver River floodplain serves as a cautionary note to the integrity of other bone deposits.

Cooper is more than just another Folsom-age site. Cooper serves as a catalyst in piecing together the variation observed in Folsom bison hunting and seasonal movement on the southern Plains. With its three late summer/early fall kills, combined with those at Lipscomb and probably Lake Theo, Cooper establishes a link between seasonality and the activity of large scale bison hunting. The enigma of multiple, completely articulated skeletons discovered at the Lipscomb site is now grouped with the three kills at Cooper to define the modus operendi of butchering activity associated with large Folsom kills. With the completion of the analysis of the Cooper bones, it is now known that meat was stripped from these carcasses without disarticulating the skeletons. The articulated skeletons no longer indicate waste from fortuitous overkill events.

The identification of trampled bones in the Middle and Lower kills provides a means to help segregate the kill events at Cooper and to help identify multiple kills at other sites.

The use of a black chert (Owl Creek chert) in the point and tool assemblages from the Lower and Middle kills ties these Folsom hunters with a source region in northcentral Texas. Subsequent identification of a point made from this material from a surface find in central Oklahoma and the possible occurrence of this material in the Lake Theo assemblage defines a territory or spatial tie that is different from that seen in other southern Plains Folsom assemblages.

The consistent season of late summer/early fall for all three kills at Cooper and those at Lipscomb and possibly Lake Theo, yet inconsistent condition of the projectile point conditions between these sites indicate Folsom lithic technology functioned independently from seasonal mobility patterns. Folsom hunters repeatedly made large late summer/early fall bison kills in the Texas panhandle/western Oklahoma area regardless of the state of their lithic reserves. Relating the activity resulting in the patterns observed at this site to possible band aggregations remains conjectural, but gives pause for reflection. The recovery of a painted skull is perhaps the most significant find that ushers the act of hunting into the realm of socio-cultural belief systems. Cooper provides the reminder that Folsom hunting was more than simply a subsistence activity.


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