The surface of the floodplain of the Ohio River about 20km southwest of Louisville, Kentucky, is a series of linear ridges and swales that are subparallel to the channel of the river, which here is relatively straight and flows southward. Numerous prehistoric occupational sites are located on these ridges. The sediments that underlie the ridges, which were examined in four archaeological excavations as deep as 8 m, are predominantly sandy silt and silty fine to very fine sand and appear to be mainly the product of overbank deposition from suspended load. Abundant cultural material and occupational sites dating as early as 10,000 years BP are found in the sediments at depths as great as 6??5 m. The fine sediments of the floodplain are underlain by sand and gravel. The context of the cultural materials and the stratigraphy and morphology of the deposits indicate that the ridged deposits began as linear riverside sand and gravel bars. These were succeeded upward by fine-grained overbank deposits in which the ridged morphology was maintained because the overbank silt and fine sand were deposited as prograding elongate bars at high water. As the floodplain ridge built upward, the sedimentation rate decreased and the sand content of the sediments diminished, and as the river channel occasionally shifted, the ridged deposits were built in successive subparallel sequences. Two archaeological consequences are implicit in this depositional model of orderly growth of the floodplain. First, available archaeological data from floodplain segments along other parts of the river should confirm the model; and second, the model should make it possible to search the floodplains of the Ohio River for stratified sites of any desired age. ?? 1984.
Additional publication details
Archaeological sedimentology of overbank silt deposits on the floodplain of the Ohio river near Louisville, Kentucky