Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Volume 40, 1993
K. Kris Hirst, Editor
Current Issues in Iowa Archeology
A notable characteristic of Great Oasis ceramics throughout their area of distribution is a marked uniformity in decorative design. Underlying this macrostylistic homogeneity, however, is a certain amount of variability in design-application procedures. Examination of such microstylistic variability provides insights into the nature of Great Oasis as a cultural entity. A macro- and microstylistic analysis of ceramic assemblages from three sites in northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska suggests that the traditional view of a single Great Oasis 'culture' may require revision.
Site 13VB104 is a multiple component Woodland site located in loess-mantled terrain in Van Buren County, Iowa. The site provides evidence for the vertical stratification of archeological deposits in a loess-derived soil, in a geomorphic setting where perhaps few archeologists would anticipate encountering such evidence. Consideration of soil stratigraphy and depth distributions of artifacts and features supports the conclusion that an Early or early Middle Woodland component has been shallowly buried by localized deposition of eolian sediments, incorporated into the developing soil profile by processes of pedogenic upbuilding. Methods for identifying cultural stratigraphy in sites on loess-mantled uplands and stream terraces in Iowa are discussed. Insights into prehistoric settlement systems and chert procurement and technology are also offered.
A large, extant sycamore tree located within Lake Red Rock, Iowa, is known locally as the "old Red Rock Indian Line Tree." According to local oral history, this tree was a well-known landmark and boundary line marker for the Red Rock Line associated with the 1842 Sauk and Mesquakie treaty cession. The tree is dead and is currently standing in approximately 3 m (10 ft) of water impounded by the Lake Red Rock reservoir. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, requested information concerning the identification, significance, and possible preservation of this tree. The investigation indicated that the sycamore is very near the Red Rock Indian Line and would have been an old tree in 1842; however, available legal records from that time make no mention of it. On the other hand, oral history and mid-twentieth century written accounts indicate that the sycamore is a tree of some historical significance. Despite this unresolved ambiguity, and the ineligibility of the tree for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, it is concluded that the tree is of local importance and that it has stood as a symbol of the Red Rock Line for a number of years. It is recommended that the tree be marked in some manner to identify its history and to serve as a visual reminder of the Red Rock Line location. It is also recommended that a cross-section be taken from the tree to better document its age, provide important climatic reference data, and serve as a tangible artifact of this tree before it is lost entirely to decay.
The systems analysis method known as "Data Flow Diagrams" is used to describe the artifact repository system in place at the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist. The system of caring for artifacts from the time they are recovered in the field until the time they are deposited into the state repository is broken into a series of seven component parts, and each part broken into its component actions. We conclude that the OSA system of processing artifacts is fundamentally sound, although the system would be more useful to the staff if they used the relational database computer program Paradox, as planned, to link site records, accession log, field notes, and artifact catalog into one large accessible database.
Profiles in Iowa Archeology
Editor's Note: Through the years a great many men and women have contributed to our knowledge of Iowa prehistory. The accomplishments of some are familiar to most members of the archeological community, while the contributions of others are not generally well known. "Profiles in Iowa Archeology," a regular feature making its debut in this issue of the Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society, spotlights particular individuals whose efforts have significantly added to our understanding of the state's ancient past. The subject of our inaugural profile is T. H. Lewis, whose work a century ago continues to have an impact on archeological research in Iowa.
During the late nineteenth century, Theodore Hayes Lewis recorded numerous archeological sites in the upper Mississippi valley, including many in eastern Iowa. A skilled surveyor, Lewis produced detailed plans of the mound groups he recorded. Relocation of sites originally documented by Lewis has established the accuracy of his work beyond question. His maps and plans constitute an increasingly valuable source of information for today's investigators coping with the ever-shrinking archeological record.
William T. Billeck, Ed.
Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Webpage by Heidi M. Thunhorst, September 3, 2002.