Panhandle culture

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Panhandle culture
Geographical rangeSouthern High Plains
primarily Oklahoma, Texas
PeriodMiddle Ceramic Period
DatesAD 1200–1400
Preceded by Woodland period
The Canadian River and the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. The Antelope Creek People lived mostly on terraces overlooking the river or in side canyons with springs. Alfl 3771.jpg
The Canadian River and the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. The Antelope Creek People lived mostly on terraces overlooking the river or in side canyons with springs.

Panhandle culture is a prehistoric culture of the southern High Plains during the Middle Ceramic Period from AD 1200 to 1400. Panhandle sites are primarily in the panhandle and west central Oklahoma and the northern half of the Texas Panhandle. [1]

Oklahoma Panhandle panhandle in north-western Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Panhandle is the extreme northwestern region of the U.S. state of Oklahoma, consisting of Cimarron County, Texas County and Beaver County, from west to east. As with other salients in the United States, its name comes from the similarity of its shape to the handle of a pan.

Texas Panhandle Region in Texas, United States

The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east. The Handbook of Texas defines the southern border of Swisher County as the southern boundary of the Texas Panhandle region.


The culture was likely an outgrowth of the Woodland phase or a migration of people from north-central Kansas. [2]

Panhandle focus divisions

Antelope Creek focus is the primary, and to some the only, cultural tradition of the Panhandle culture. The Optima focus was defined for sites in west central Oklahoma, but after further study, these sites were defined as Antelope Creek focus. In 1975 Robert G. Campbell defined the Apishapa culture of southeastern Colorado's Chaquaqua Plateau as a Panhandle culture, which is disputed by other noted archaeologists. [1]

The Apishapa culture, or Apishapa Phase, a prehistoric culture from 1000-1400, was named based upon an archaeological site in the Lower Apishapa canyon in Colorado. The Apishapa River, a tributary of the Arkansas River, formed the Apishapa canyon. In 1976, there were 68 Apishapa sites on the Chaquaqua Plateau in southeastern Colorado.

Difficulty defining Panhandle culture

Several contributing factors have made it difficult to define the Panhandle culture, such as discrepancies in reporting carbon dating of artifacts, variations in interpretation of dating information, spotty information, and a lack of published material about the Panhandle culture. [1]

Radiocarbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon.

Distinctive traits

While it has been difficult to define the time periods and foci of the Panhandle culture, there are some distinguishing characteristics: [1] [2]

Great Plains broad expanse of flat land west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada

The Great Plains is the broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, that lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie in the United States and east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. It embraces:

Southwestern United States Geographical region of the USA

The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest, is the informal name for a region of the western United States. Definitions of the region's boundaries vary a great deal and have never been standardized, though many boundaries have been proposed. For example, one definition includes the stretch from the Mojave Desert in California to Carlsbad, New Mexico, and from the Mexico–United States border to the southern areas of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. The largest metropolitan areas are centered around Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson, Albuquerque, and El Paso. Those five metropolitan areas have an estimated total population of more than 9.6 million as of 2017, with nearly 60 percent of them living in the two Arizona cities—Phoenix and Tucson.

Hunter-gatherer human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals)

A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging. Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on domesticated species.

A primary good for trade for the Panhandle culture was Alibates agatized dolomite, such as that found at the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. [2]

Location of Panhandle sites

Most of the sites are centered on the Canadian River and North Canadian River or its tributaries, primarily Antelope Creek and also Cottonwood Creek, Dixon Creek, and Tarbox Creek. Panhandle culture sites were also found on the Archie King Ranch. [1] [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Gunnerson, James H. (1987). Archaeology of the High Plains. Denver: United States Forest Service. p. 87.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Gibbon, Guy E.; Ames, Kenneth M. Archaeology of Prehistoric Native America: An Encyclopedia. 1998. p. 20. ISBN   0-8153-0725-X.