Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Volume 38, 1991
Stephen C. Lensink, Editor
Great Oasis culture is defined as an integral part of the early Initial Middle Missouri tradition. It also functioned in an important trading relationship with Emergent Mississippian peoples of the central Mississippi valley. The nature of that trade relationship and its importance to Great Oasis and the closely-related Mill Creek cultures of the plains-prairie border are discussed.
Paul Sagers (1909-1982) was an amateur archaeologist whose work figured prominently in the development of the Woodland cultural sequence in eastern Iowa. His collections from the Levsen and Mouse Hollow rockshelters were used by C. R. Keyes and W. D. Logan to define Woodland pottery types and cultural complexes. Under a grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the collection was cataloged in order to increase its research and educational value. This paper reviews the collection, its significance, and cataloging methods. The collection is housed and displayed at the Sagers Museum at Maquoketa Caves State Park, Jackson County, Iowa.
Two stages of manufacture for triangular Madison and Cahokia type projectile points are recognized at the Late Woodland component of the Sweeting site, Washington County, Iowa. An early stage is represented by both unnotched, bifactial flake points and by relatively large, unnotched triangular bifaces characterized by sinuous edges, large flake scars, transverse breakage patterns, and tool edge platform preparation. Late stage projectile points are technologically finished, may be unnotched or notched, and display no use wear. Unnotched triangular bifaces at some Late Woodland sites have been suggested to be cutting and scraping tools rather than early stage projectile points. Artifact manufacturing trajectories, morphology, and use wear need to be considered when assessing the function of triangular bifaces.
The Christenson site (13PK407) is a small, winter village of the late prehistoric Oneota culture. The village is located in Polk County on the Des Moines River midway between the present-day City of Des Moines and Saylorville Lake. Emergency excavations funded by the Rock Island District, Corps of Engineers were conducted in 1983 to salvage eroding portions of the site. The complete mitigation report, except for the analytical section on ceramic iconography (see Benn 1989), is presented here. The text contains a description of the geomorphological setting of the Christenson site, a deeply buried site on a low terrace of the Des Moines River. The block excavations at the site followed the geomorphic structure of the terrace sediments enabling the artifacts within the thin (10-20 cm) cultural layer to be piece plotted. Analytical sections discuss the botanical remains, gastropods, vertebrate bones, and mussel shells. The 11 Oneota vessels recovered are analyzed with an emphasis on the reconstruction of complete decorative motifs. Modified bones and shells are described, and all categories of lithic materials are analyzed including data on use wear. The summary sections place Christenson in the Moingona phase settlement pattern and argue that the site functioned as a seasonal camp many kilometers upriver from the principal villages in the present-day Red Rock Lake locality. The territorial system of the Oneota is hypothesized as an outcome of the premises of Benn's (1989) article on ceramic iconography.
The Coppers Creek site (13VB460) is a short-term Late Woodland occupation located near the confluence of Coppers Creek and the Des Moines River in Van Buren County, Iowa. Excavations revealed several pit features containing charcoal, mussel shell, burned earth, and lithic and ceramic artifacts. Although post molds were present throughout the excavated units, definite patterns were not observed. Among the artifacts recovered from the site are small, triangular, side-notched projectile points, ground stone tools, several pieces of ground stone tools, several pieces of ground hematite, a hematite biface, and approximately one-third of a large, subconoidal vessel with a cord-marked body and vertical tool impressions on the shoulder and interior and exterior lip.
Attempts to resolve an ongoing debate over the precise function of a lithic artifact from archaeological site 13MR204 in Marshall County, Iowa, embraced four different methods of investigation. Methods to determine whether the artifact was an end scraper or an aboriginal gunflint included consulting traditional artifact categories, low-power magnification use-wear analysis, reference to site context, and, finally, consultation with other professionals. Results of the investigations were inconslusive. It is suggested that the most comprehensive solution is to discuss both possibilities, but leave the precise identification open to question.
This paper discusses the identification of archaeological debris from former scove kilns and brick clamps that made soft-mud bricks by presenting one example from Iowa. The Cheshire site (13WA76) represents the archaeological remains of either a scove kiln or brick clamp for soft-mud brick production, in operation sometime between the early 1850s and the early 1870s. The core area of the Cheshire site is marked by a dense concentration of brickmaking debris, principally soft-mud brick fragments, notable for a high incidence of glazing (40 percent). A light artifact scatter extends for 1-1.5 ha around the core area.
The Cheshire site was identified through archaeological survey. There is no record of the brickyard in the Iowa Industrial Census schedules, county histories, county atlases, or other written records. The archival research and archaeological data conclude that small-scale, soft-mud brickmaking facilities such as the Cheshire site are significant to the nineteenth-century economic development and architectural character of Iowa's landscape.
William T. Billeck, Ed.
Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Webpage by Heidi M. Thunhorst, September 3, 2002.