Cave Spring Cavern Educational Reserve, Warren County, Kentucky

Grants and Contracts Details


Cave Spring Cavern or Crump's Cave (archaeological site number lSWa6) was first described as an archaeological site by Gerard Fowke in 1922. In 1932, William Funkhouser and William Webb (1932:386) included the site in their comprehensive survey of known sites in Kentucky, although they conducted no work there. The first professional archaeological work done in the cave was by Kenneth Carstens (1980) as part of his dissertation research. He made a small excavation inside the entrance or vestibule of the cave in the summer of 1975. However, before his return to complete the excavations in the fall of 1975, his test unit and much of the archaeological deposits had been destroyed by looters digging in the cave. Carstens was able to salvage some information from his work. Based on radiocarbon dates and diagnostic artifacts, Carstens (1980:108-109) suggested that the deposits contained two archaeological horizons: an earlier, pre-ceramic occupation dating approximately 1000 to 100 B.C. and a later, ceramic occupation dating approximately 100 B.C. to A.D. 1200. Carstens (1980:96) also indicated that archaeological materials could be found above the rim of the sink, in the sink, and in the vestibule of the cave, although he was not given permission to place any test excavations outside of the vestibule. In 1989, members of the Green River Grotto of the National Speleological Society reported possible prehistoric drawings in soft mud in a remote passage of Crumps Cave. Charles Faulkner of the University of Tennessee, an expert in prehistoric cave art, concluded that the drawings were prehistoric in age. Daniel Davis (1996) conducted the most systematic work to document the mud glyphs. A single radiocarbon sample from the glyph passage dated 30 B.C. (Davis 1996:349). However, much more work could be done to systematically document the drawings and radiocarbon date additional charcoal samples associated with the glyph passage. Davis (1996:3 34) also noted that the cave vestibule contained an historic component consisting of wooden water tanks and other remains most likely associated with use of the cave as a water source for the town of Smith's Grove. The following archaeological work plan is intended only to document the archaeological resources within the current property boundaries managed by Western Kentucky University. The remainder of the cave, and especially the passage containing prehistoric mud glyphs, should be thoroughly documented if permission can be obtained from the landowner. That work is beyond the scope of this work plan.
Effective start/end date1/1/094/30/10


  • Western Kentucky University: $8,000.00


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