The Dahl Site (23CY216) in Callaway County is a dry rock shelter in the Auxvasse Creek drainage. The site was excavated by the Westminster College Archaeology Project in four week seasons during 1973, 1974, and 1975. The site was revisited and rechecked in a 10 day dig in 1983. All work at the site was a combination of research and training.

Westminster College and William Woods College students and faculty working in excavation units A-1 and A-2 outside the entrance of Dahl Rockshelter. Co-Directors of the project were Dr. Christian E. Hauer, Jr. (Professor of Religion) and Dr. John W. Page (Professor of Anthropology). The site is situated on private property and is not open to visitors.



Entrance to Dahl's Rockshelter. Cultural remains (pottery, lithics, and animal bones) were deposited during the Middle and Late Woodland Periods. No datable carbon samples were recovered. Field records are archived at Westminster College.

Excavation grid at Dahl's Rockshelter.

Excavation units A-3, B-3, C-3 and D-3 parallel the dripline of Dahl Rockshelter. Excavation units A-1 and A-2 extended downslope toward the creek and they were essentially sterile of prehistoric artifacts. Excavation unit A-4 (lower left corner of image) was located deeper into the interior of the rockshelter.

Pottery sherds, a chert core, and mussel shells exposed in the topmost layer of Excavation square B-3; 30 April 1974.

Cache of 50 fresh water mussels, some still articulated and others that could be matched. Professor Hauer interprets this as evidence of a feast. .

Excavation unit A-4 near the backwall of the Dahl Rockshelter. Photograph May 4, 1973. A modern pit (left side) intruded into the prehistoric deposits. A plastic bag in the intrusive pit contained a metal can.

Partial skeleton of a child found at the back of the shelter in the C trench during the 1983. The skeleton appear to have been cast headlong into the midden. The skull was missing and the skeleton is incomplete. Dentition charts indicate age at death about 9 years. The skeleton was semiarticulated and there was no evidence of pot polish or butchering marks on the bones. No there was no evidence that the bones broken to get marrow. A complete grey wolf skeleton was discovered in the same depositional locus (layer of soil) as the child's skeleton. The appearance of the burial was if it was a discarded child who was not afforded burial as a human. The grave might have been intact and disturbed by scavenging animals or it is possible that the child was an outsider to the group or had broken a taboo which resulted in the seemingly insensitive nature of its burial. Gender of a child is impossible to determine from skeletal remains.

In situ, articulated skeleton a young adult male (age at death approximately 18) was found in the east balk of the D trench. No evidence of pathology or trauma was visible on the skeletal remains. His burial partially disturbed the feet of a adult female burial. All human remains were turned over to Native American authorities for reburial in 1996.



Cache of stone tools from excavation unit D-3 that were directly associated with the burial of the articulated young adult male.

Skull of the adult female with evidence of trauma to mandible, cheekbone and left eye orbit.

Fractured left side of mandible belonging to the adult woman burial.




Interior of left side of pelvis of the adult woman showing evidence of trauma.



Green stick fracture of left tibia of the adult woman.

Webpage constructed 4 May 2005
Webpage updated 4 October 2014