Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Volume 43, 1996
K. Kris Hirst, Editor
The very best archaeology combines an eclectic range of data, including history, ethnology, ethnohistory, and anthropology in addition to archaeological information. Such a mix allows the scientist to put the people back into the equation, and tell a more complete story than can be found in centimeters and grams. The essay which follows is just such a work. The author, Lance Foster, unites Ioway history, language, and legend with archaeological data to bring sight, sound, and meaning to Iowa's past. Lance Foster is a member of the Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, and received an MA in Anthropology from Iowa State University. He is currently working on his MLA (Masters of Landscape Architecture) also at Iowa State University, and writing a book on the landscape of the Ioway Indians.
Subsurface tests of two prehistoric sites in Perry Creek, northwest Iowa, were conducted in the summer of 1974 in a joint venture with the Department of Anthropology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the National Park Service. The Larson site (13PM61) was occupied by Perry Creek phase people, characterized by the combination of Great Oasis and Mill Creek Tradition ceramics and evidence for extensive trade contacts. As currently defined, the Perry Creek phase dates meet reasonably between AD 1200 and 1300. The Lawrence Vondrak site, a Great Oasis component, dates sometime prior to Larson and is unique in producing evidence for a line of heavy posts, presumably a stockade.
The mechanisms and rate of Mill Creek midden formation have long puzzled archaeologists. The two most widely accepted models that have been suggested to explain this phenomenon, the tell model and the house-banking model, are based mainly on prevailing interpretations of the radiocarbon dates and rely on long time periods to account for midden formation. Recent investigations at the Phipps site (13CK21) suggest that the midden at Phipps was formed via house-banking, but the length of occupation at the site was much shorter than was once thought.
Angelo Punctated was provisionally defined by William Hurley based on his 1960s investigations of the Silver Creek sites in western Wisconsin. Subsequently, recognized examples from a larger region have clarified the variation and probable temporal placement of this type. Angelo Punctated is viewed as a minor local expression of a broader ceramic style that appears to mark Late Woodland complexes across the upper Midwest.
Archaeological investigations performed in conjunction with two highway improvement projects in western Iowa during the summer of 1993 provide new evidence concerning Late Archaic subsistence and settlement patterns in that region. Two deeply buried sites, one in the floodplain of the Soldier River, and one in the floodplain of the East Boyer River, have been radiocarbon-dated to 4420+80 years B.P. and 4020+80 B.P. respectively. Artifacts recovered from the two sites suggest that resource exploitation practices described for the better-documented Woodland-period populations in western Iowa likely extend back to at least Late Archaic times. The two sites were discovered through the implementation of survey research designs incorporating the recently adopted Association of Iowa Archaeologists geomorphological guidelines in support of archaeological investigations. The discovery of these deeply buried sites graphically demonstrates the importance of integrating geomorphological studies into archaeological research.
The third annual Iowa Archaeology Week was held in 1995. Support from the Iowa Humanities Board and other organizations led to a successful public programming effort. Eighty separate events attended by over 6,500 people were held in 37 communities around the state. Most of these communities had not previously hosted an Archaeology Week event. Participant evaluation forms indicate high ratings and a great deal of enthusiasm for the programs. Plans for Iowa Archaeology Week 1996 include incorporation of the Sesquicentennial theme, while longer-term public arachaeology efforts will include coordination of year-long programming in addition to Iowa Archaeology Week.
Profiles in Iowa Archeology
Wayne Polk was a collector of American Indian artifacts during the 1930s through the 1950s in Fremont County, Iowa. His notebook offers insights into the thoughts and theories of an amateur archaeologist of that time period.
Margot Neverett, Ed.
Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Webpage by Heidi M. Thunhorst, September 3, 2002.