Holding great significance for archaeologists, the Hester Site is located in Monroe County, just west of the town of Amory, on the Tombigbee River. Excavations conducted in the 1970s revealed this site as the earliest occupation yet found in Mississippi.
Spear-point types from the site indicate a date in excess of ten thousand years ago. Hester is a stratified site, occupied for a long period and later sealed by flood events. The site thus resembles a layer cake, with the oldest remains on the bottom and the most recent on top. Hester was occupied almost continuously from about ten thousand years ago to six thousand years ago. It was then abandoned until around AD 500, reoccupied until AD 900, and then abandoned again until the 1920s. Hester is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
The earliest occupation was by Paleo-Indians. All tools found from this early habitation are hunting and butchering tools, indicating that only males occupied the Hester site, since most early people had a strict sexual division of labor and hunting was a male activity. Further, tools were not being manufactured at the site. Hester was probably a deer hunting camp, where animals were brought and processed before being taken back to the base camp.
Hester subsequently served as a base camp. The presence of adzes indicates heavy woodworking activities such as house construction and dugout canoe manufacture. Also present are stones used to process nuts, a class of tools that indicates that females lived at Hester. Nut harvest was an important activity for early people, who competed with many animals for this important resource. In addition, end scrapers have been found, suggesting the preparation of hide, another activity assumed to have been carried out by females. These people had no knowledge of pottery, agriculture, or the bow and arrow. (In fact, the bow and arrow do not appear in Mississippi until around AD 800.)
At about 4000 BC the site was abandoned for unknown reasons. It remained unoccupied until around AD 500, when hunter-gatherers who practiced an early form of agriculture arrived. These inhabitants used pottery, leaving many potsherds. Hester remained occupied for approximately five hundred years before again being abandoned until the 1920s, when a small wood frame house was constructed on the site.
- Samuel O. Brookes, The Hester Site, an Early Archaic Occupation in Monroe County, Mississippi: A Preliminary Report (1979)