Published In

Wapato Valley Archaeology Project report, #7.; Cultural resource series (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Region 1), no. 13.

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Excavations (Archaeology) -- Washington (State) -- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Historic preservation -- Washington (State) -- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Chinook Indians -- Antiquities, Ridgefield (Wash.) -- Antiquities


This is the preliminary report, one in a series on the archaeology of the Wapato Valley region of the Lower Columbia River. Most of the reports discuss aspects of the excavations and archaeology of two sites, the Meier site (35CO5) and Cathlapotle site (45CL1). Other related topics are also treated.

Archaeological investigations at site 45CL1, Clark County, Washington, demonstrate that the locality is a very large (c 1.5ha), deeply stratified (2-4m) town site with an occupation spanning at least 1000 years (c. AD 1000 to 1840). Six large, complex depressions have been mapped. Test excavations show that these depressions represent the semisubterranean portions of residential structures, probably large plankhouses of the type common on the Lower Columbia River and the Northwest Coast in aboriginal times. The depressions may represent as many as 11 such dwellings. A seventh depression is deeply buried beneath midden deposits. The cultural deposits contain very high densities of artifacts, ecofacts (including both faunal and floral remains), debris and features.

The site is near the Columbia River on a very active flood plain, resulting in site stratigraphy produced by a combination of active cultural and alluvial depositional processes. Site 45CL1, given its location and size, is the best candidate to be the site of Cathlapotle, a Middle Chinookan town visited by Lewis and Clark in 1806, as well as by other early Europeans in the area. The site is extraordinarily well preserved, having undergone only minor alterations since its abandonment, probably in the third or fourth decade of the 19th century AD.


Descriptions of the attached supplemental files and more information about this report series and metadata:

Meier Cathlapotle Data Catalogs Overview

Artifact Descriptions:

  • Artifact Variable Definitions
  • Cathlapotle Administrative Catalog
  • Meier Administrative Catalog
  • Master Type List and Catalog Counts

(See Also Part V of Report 11 for additional details.)

Unit Volumes:

  • Cathlapotle Unit Volumes
  • Meier Unit Volumes

These files contain lists of all excavated units at both sites, with their various designations. Both sites had standard cartesian grids, so the file lists units according to their grid designations. Each unit at both sites also has an alpha-numeric designation and these are listed. For each unit listed, there are starting and ending elevations for each excavation level, as well as that level’s designation in the system of components, facilities, and locations. These dimensions are used to develop a paradigmatic classification for all levels, which are combined in various ways to create Analytical Units (AU). At the bottom of the spreadsheets are tallies of the volumes of the various AUs used for the analyses.


  • Cathlapotle Grid System Map
  • Meier Units Map

Two maps are attached -- one of the Cathlapotle grid system and excavation units (there is no such map included in any of the reports) and a map of the Meier units with each unit’s alpha-numeric designation. This map does appear in various reports. There is a map of the Meier grid and excavation units, but it includes only the units in and immediately adjacent to the house and hence is not included. The map here has all units.

Metadata for the analytical files is included in the relevant file if it is not available in the report. For example, the metadata for bone and antler tools is in Fuld’s report on the osseous artifacts. On the other hand, the analytical files for ground and pecked stone tools have a tab labelled “Dimensions” which contains the relevant metadata since there is no full report on these artifacts (only the ground stone files have this tab). There is also a sheet of metadata for the lithics analyses included (hence no Dimensions tab). We are including analytical catalogs of material on which we have not reported or published, primarily the light and heavy lithic tools. People are obviously free to use these data, but we will be publishing on them.

While all of the analytical catalogs contain the same provenience and AU information, be aware that they are not necessarily in the same format. The data sheets were prepared by the various analysts and it was too large a task to either impose complete uniformity or to standardize the data sheets after they were completed. In an ideal situation (well funded, well staffed) we would have used ACCESS@ for data management. However, Access has a steeper learning curve than Excel; we had a largish number of students and consultants involved, all with differing data entry-management skills; Excel met our needs the best.

Report #8

There no files for this report.

Report #9

The file contains the feature catalogs for Meier and Cathlapotle.

Report #10

The file contains catalogs for glass, glass trade beads, non-cupreous metal, and ceramics at both sites.

Report #11

The file contains analytical catalogs for light and heavy chipped stone, ground and pecked and osseous artifacts at both sites. There is also a file (Meier Cathlapotle LIT_COMB_ALL data) that includes summary listing and measurements for all analyzed lithic tools at both sites.

Report #12

The file contains analytical catalogs for faunal remains. The Bird catalogs are self evident. The mammal catalogs have three tabs, the note tab explaining the other two. Basically, the first tab is the data as reported by Lyman, the second is a temporal control data set; we removed data with poor or ambiguous provenience. We use this data set throughout, hence our totals may differ from Lyman’s.

There is a Fish subfile which includes the data files provided by Butler, Frederick and Rosenberg. The Rosenberg files are SPSS files imported into Excel, and have her metadata. Rosenberg and Butler shared the same data format, so Butler’s metadata is the same as Rosenberg’s. The Meier fish data are contained in a single file. The Cathlapotle files are separated by analyst and by whether they originate from screened or bulk samples. Butler’s screened file (“Excavated matrix”) has three tabs, the original data, ¼” mesh non-house, and 1/8mesh, which is also non-house. Rosenberg’s non-bulk sample file includes Butler’s samples from the Cathlapotle houses as well as all of Rosenberg’s. The reader is referred to the screen size and sampling discussions in the relevant reports. Frederick’s file is straightforward.

Report #13

There no files for this report.

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