Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Volume 44, 1997
K. Kris Hirst, Editor
Profiles in Iowa Archeology
Iowa born and bred, Mildred Mott Wedel was among the first women in the nation to pursue archaeology as a profession. During her career that spanned six decades, she earned a reputation for anthropological scholarship that extended far beyond the boundaries of her native state.
The Blosser site (13BN125) and the Old Moser site (13BN130) are located in the central Des Moines River Valley in Boone County, Iowa. They were excavated as part of the Saylorville Reservoir Archaeological Project. Excavations carried out in 1969 revealed that Paleoindian, Archaic, Middle Woodland, Late Woodland, and Great Oasis populations utilized the sites for domestic activities and at 13BN125 for mortuary activities. A wide variety of chipped stone tools, ceramics, and organic remains were recovered at both sites. At 13BN125 the pottery exhibited similarities to a variety of Middle Woodland, Late Woodland, and Initial Middle Missouri types. An analysis of the projectile points from 13BN125 revealed a Late Paleoindian/Early Archaic occupation, a Middle Woodland occupation, and a Late Woodland/post Woodland occupation while at 13BN130 the ceramics and projectile points provide evidence of Archaic, Middle Woodland, and intense Late Woodland and Great Oasis occupations.
Limited excavation of the Carroll Rock Shelter (13DB486), located just south of Dubuque, Iowa, revealed the presence of several stratified components. The most interesting material came from a single feature relating to the Late Woodland Keyes phase. The feature yielded diagnostic ceramics, arrowpoints, a large faunal assemblage, including a substantial amount of bison bone, and archaeobotanical remains, radiocarbon dated to A.D. 910. This assemblage constitutes a rare occurrence of material relating to Keyes phase bison utilization.
Site 21HE129 is a late Middle to early Late Woodland (Onamia) winter base camp near Rice Lake in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Phase II investigations conducted in the area in 1994 yielded numerous Onamia artifacts, two associated hearths, and three Great Oasis trade pottery sherds from this single component site. The Onamia inhabitants of Rice Lake may have summered within the Great Oasis distribution area in southwestern Minnesota and adjacent regions, perhaps hunting bison or acquiring other resources such as maize or exotic lithic materials from local groups. Onamia pottery is similar to southwestern Minnesota Lake Benton pottery, possibly representing remnants of the Lake Benton culture. It is thought that the native Lake Benton population may have first resisted intrusions by Great Oasis "villagers" from Iowa, then either adopted the villager pattern or moved from southwestern Minnesota.
13HA365 is an unplowed "site" overlooking the Iowa River in the Greenbelt of Hardin County. A 1994 University of Northern Iowa field school revealed a Middle Woodland occupation distinguished by zones of dense lithic debris, probably the by-products of discrete knapping events. Primarily biface production can be inferred from the analysis of debris size distribution and patterns of covariation in discrete flake attributes.
Macrophysical climatic modeling (MCM) has made it possible to simulate past climates on a scale appropriate to the study of human societies: relatively short time spans and sites or small regions. At present the site specificity has been achieved but the time resolution is limited to 200 year averages. In this paper the method will be applied to a number of Iowa locales.
In addition to monthly estimates of temperature and precipitation, modeling of number of days with precipitation per month, monthly mean rain intensity, potential evapotranspiration rates, and discharge of small streams will be introduced. The compilation and analysis of all these data make possible a modeled estimate of the movement of ecotones across Iowa, such as the prairie border, in the Holocene, as well as a modeled hypothesis about the Holocene sedimentary sequence in western Iowa.
This method, which we call Archaeoclimatology, provides an economical working hypothesis, but is not, of course, a substitute for field data and subsequent modification of the hypothesis.
Most archaeological surveys in Iowa are currently conducted along highways in advance of road improvement projects. The narrow linear survey corridors cover only a fraction of the local landscape but often traverse several distinct physiographic and ecological zones. In this paper, pipeline and highway corridor surveys are used as sources of data for studying prehistoric site distributions. Analyzed using simple graphical techniques such as histograms and scatterplots, the corridor studies illustrate a tendency for sites to cluster in proximity to stream valleys. The key attraction may have been the increased environmental diversity afforded by site catchments that centered on edge locations at valley margins.
The Sand Lake Archaeological District at LaCrosse, Wisconsin, encompasses a complex of Oneota sites. These include open air habitations and preserved ridged fields that were buried beneath Oneota-induced alluvial fans. Ceramics and radiocarbon dates indicate that this complex was occupied during the transition between several local phases. The stratigraphy of the alluvial fan deposits clarify the evolution of ceramic styles.
Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
Webpage by Heidi M. Thunhorst, September 3, 2002.