Historical and contemporary environmental context for the Saline-Fifteen site (3BR119)
This paper summarizes the historical environmental context of the Saline-Fifteen site (3BR119) in Bradley County, Arkansas, developed from the General Land Office (GLO) public land surveys, other old documents, and an examination of current forest inventories and modern research to approximate past environmental attributes for this locality. While an imperfect source of information, the 1827-1841 GLO surveys for the Saline-Fifteen locality recorded at least 3,808 witness trees from a minimum of 45 taxa (assuming no grievous taxonomic identification errors). Oaks, pines, gums, and hickories were the most common taxa; a range of different-sized witness trees were also used, with a few oaks and cypress exceeding 60 inches (152 cm) in diameter. In addition to the witness trees and improvements of early Euroamerican settlers, other identifiable environmental attributes of interest to archeologists in the GLO notes include a variety of wildlife; mineral, soil, and abundant water resources; natural mounds; prairies and other natural vegetative communities; and scores of understory plants. Comparison with contemporary forest inventory data show that significant changes to landscape vegetation patterns have occurred over the past 150+ years. For example, chinquapin was present during the GLO surveys and probably represented an important food source for prehistoric populations, but this species is now virtually absent from the Saline-Fifteen locality.