Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Volume 32, 1985
Nancy M. Osborn, Editor
Jamestown Township, within Grant County, is in the extreme southwestern corner of Wisconsin. It is bordered on the west by the valley of the Mississippi River, which was intensively utilized during the Late Woodland period. There are 27 known Late Woodland sites within this civil township, and two of these were excavated in 1980. The Bade site (47-Gt-365) contains two mounds and a habitation area that were investigated. The conical mound at Bade yielded an infant burial and associated grave goods, while an assemblage of ceramics, lithics, and faunal material was recovered from both mounds and the habitation area. All four mounds at the Poor Man's Farrah site (47-Gt-366) were excavated, and although artifact recovery was less than at Bade, a radiocarbon date indicates that Mound 2 was constructed at AD 950 +/- 70. Ratios of C13/C12 suggest that corn was an integral part of the Late Woodland diet in the upper Mississippi valley.
The results of a description and analysis of four human burials from two Late Woodland mound groups in southwestern Wisconsin are presented. Even though the remains were poorly preserved and very fragmented, the identification and analysis techniques utilized yielded substantial information. This has made it possible to characterize, in part, the nature of the burial practices of these Late Woodland groups. A total of 13 individuals is represented, and a minimum number associated with each burial was established by using a bone element point count. Body part representations in each burial were estimated using these same data. Some cultural selection of certain body parts for burial was noted. Analyses of the age and sex of the individuals were inconclusive as to sex; however, it was determined that a wide range of age classes were buried in these mound groups. Pathologies and traumas are described and discussed; of particular note is the discovery of cut marks on many of the bones. In at least two cases, these cut marks resemble closely those produced in trophy scalp removal.
Charred floral material was recovered from nine contexts at the Bade site (47-Gt-365), two Late Woodland-stage mound groups overlooking the Mississippi River valley in Grant County, Wisconsin. This material was studied primarily for purposes of vegetational reconstruction. Prehistoric floral remains were limited to charcoal, except for a single corn cupule from 47-Gt-366.
Immediately-presettlement vegetational patterns were very complex. Vegetation at the time of mound construction undoubtedly was also complex. This factor, together with the scarcity of floral remains, makes reliable vegetational reconstruction difficult. When viewed as an assemblage, however, the charcoal from the two sites is consistent with vegetation similar to that present when Europeans first arrived in the upper Mississippi valley. Palynological studies indicate that large-scale climatic changes have not occurred in the study area since these mound-group sites were occupied; minor climatic changes have probably taken place, however. Although the evidence suggests general similarity between the prehistoric and modern vegetation, local shifts in associational extent or change in the relative importance of taxa within associations may have occurred.
In 1982 the Iowa Conservation Commission drained Rock Creek Lake, a small artificial lake located in Jasper County, Iowa. Because drainage of the lake offered a chance for archaeologists to examine a land surface covered by lake waters since 1952, the authors conducted an archaeological reconnaissance of the lake basin in 1982 with a crew of students from Grinnell College. As a result of this survey, twenty small prehistoric sites and four historic dumps were recorded within Rock Creek State Park. The archaeological evidence consists mainly of stone tools and debitage and a few hearths. These data appear to represent light use of the area for hunting and gathering activities from Archaic times into the late prehistoric period. Such small, sparse sites may be invisible under ordinary conditions, but such sites were exposed by erosion and denudation of the lake margins.
Joseph A. Tiffany, Ed.
Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Webpage by Heidi M. Thunhorst, September 3, 2002.