Temporal Use of Koster Mounds: Functional Morphology, Mortuary Practices, and Paleopathology in the Prehistoric Lower Illinois River Valley

An Examination of Flintlock Components at Fort St. Joseph (20BE23), Niles, Michigan

Community Identity, Culinary Traditions and Foodways in the Western Great Lakes

A Multiproxy Analysis of Culinary, Technological, and Environmental Interactions in the Northern Great Lakes Region

"This is the Way Things are Run": Land Use on the Grand Portage Reservation During Office of Indian Affairs Occupation, 1854-1930

Stone Tools and Agricultural Communities: Economic, Microwear, and Residue Analyses of Wisconsin Oneota Lithic Assemblages

Climate Change, Migration, and the Emergence of Village Life on the Mississippian Periphery: A Middle Ohio Valley Case Study

Late Paleo-Indian Period Lithic Economies, Mobility, and Group Organization in Wisconsin

Investigating the Functions of Copper Material Culture from Four Oneota Sites of the Lake Koshkonong Region

Late Archaic Hunter-Gatherer Lithic Technology and Function (Chipped Stone, Ground Stone, and Fire-Cracked Rock): A Study of Domestic Life, Foodways, and Seasonal Mobility on Grand Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

The Introduction of Havana-Hopewell in West Michigan and Northwest Indiana: An Integrative Approach to the Identification of Communities, Interaction Networks, and Mobility Patterns

 

Below are abstracts for masters theses and doctoral dissertations with relevance to Midwestern archaeology. Email us if you wish for us to consider posting the abstract of your completed masters thesis or doctoral dissertation.

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Temporal Use of Koster Mounds: Functional Morphology, Mortuary Practices, and Paleopathology in the Prehistoric Lower Illinois River Valley

By Lita Sacks 
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation 
Indiana University 
August 2019

Koster Mounds is a prehistoric mortuary complex in Greene County, Illinois, that was designated a Late Woodland (1500-1000 BP) site by its excavator, Gregory Perino. However, its diverse mortuary program, abundance of Late Archaic (5000-3000 BP) artifacts, and proximity to the later-to-be-discovered Middle Archaic (8000-5000 BP) Koster Site habitation area and cemetery suggest an earlier origin. The relationship between Koster Mounds and Koster Site and the possibility of earlier components at Koster Mounds have never been formally investigated. This project employed entirely nondestructive skeletal methods to establish the temporal use of Koster Mounds and identify the dynamic conceptions of social memory as inscribed through mortuary rituals in Archaic through Late Woodland groups. Due to diachronic changes in diet and food processing technology, oral health and morphology of skull regions subjected to masticatory forces were assessed across Koster Mounds mortuary components to determine their relative chronology. Simultaneous changes in diet, settlement, and population size precipitated changes in general health. Skeletal pathologies and anomalies were compared across Koster Mounds to corroborate oral and morphological results. Oral health was used to directly compare Koster Mounds to Koster Site. Results from the temporal analysis indicated heterogeneity across burial locations (mounds and knolls), burial depths (sub-surface graves, original ground surface, and mound fill), and burial positions (flexed, semiflexed, and extended), with individuals buried in knolls, sub-mound graves, and flexed positions being more closely affiliated with established health and morphological patterns of earlier groups. However, no entire component matched the oral health profile of Koster Site, indicating that earlier components of Koster Mounds are more likely of Early Woodland (3000- 2000 BP) or Middle Woodland (2000-1500 BP) than Archaic origin. 

Assessment of social memory was based on the biological distance between Koster Mounds mortuary components. Morphology of the neurocranium (having higher heritability than other regions of the skull) and frequencies of skeletal genetic anomalies and variants showed homogeneity across most of the components identified in the first part as being chronologically distinct. Some evidence suggested biological disparity between individuals buried in graves and mound fill, but overall there is insufficient data to interpret the components as belonging to completely distinct groups. Together, the results indicate that Koster Mounds was indeed a multi-component site that was likely first used by Early or Middle Woodland societies. The overall biological homogeneity across the components of the site supports its use by a single human group, who by continuing and altering their ancestors’ mortuary practices engaged with their own past and sustained their collective social memory.

 


An Examination of Flintlock Components at Fort St. Joseph (20BE23), Niles, Michigan

By Kevin P. Jones
Abstract of Master's Thesis
Western Michigan University
April 2019

The purpose of this study is to identify the age, country and place of origin, function (e.g.
fusil, pistol), and intended use (e.g. military, trade gun) of flintlock components recovered from Fort St. Joseph (20BE23), an eighteenth-century French mission-garrison-trading post in southwest Michigan. Flintlock muskets were a vital technology in New France throughout the fur trade era, both in their roles as weapons and as hunting implements. They were also important because their relatively complex nature necessitated localized, frontier supply and repair; their use and maintenance were integrated into many facets of frontier life. Historical documents and archaeological materials show that Fort St. Joseph was one location where flintlock-related activities occurred. Close examination of Fort St. Joseph's flintlock artifacts provides insight into the weapons that were used and maintained on the frontier, as well as the significant roles they played in the North American fur trade more widely.

 


Community Identity, Culinary Traditions and Foodways in the Western Great Lakes

By Jennifer R. Haas
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2019

This dissertation project examines for evidence of substantial differences in community and community identity, as expressed through culinary traditions and foodways, of Early and Middle Woodland populations in the western Great Lakes region from circa 100 BC to AD 400. The research compares culinary traditions and foodways of Early and Middle Woodland populations in southeastern Wisconsin using multiple lines of fined grained material data derived from the Finch site (47JE0902). As an open air Early to Middle Woodland (ca 100 BC to AD 400) domestic habitation, the Finch site serves as a case study for elucidating culinary traditions and foodways at the community level. Implementing a multi-faceted approach, this study integrates traditional plant macrobotanical studies, faunal analyses, ceramic morphological and use wear analyses, and absorbed chemical residue analyses to provide a comprehensive overview of the intersection between food and community in this region of North America.

The results of the study indicate overall similarities in culinary traditions and foodways of Early and Middle Woodland populations. The archaeological data reveal little evidence suggesting that what is archaeologically recognized as Early and Middle Woodland correlate with distinct communities. Based on the Finch site culinary traditions and foodways, groups in the southeastern Wisconsin region of the western Great Lakes did not become fully embedded within a broader Havana Hopewellian relational or symbolic community. The social processes at play in southeastern Wisconsin during the Early and Middle Woodland are distinct from those processes occurring elsewhere in the Havana Hopewellian world, undoubtedly a factor in community identity formation and transformation within this region of the western Great Lakes. The study underscores the importance and utility of incorporating multiple lines of material evidence to address archaeological research questions and challenges the current taxonomic classification schema for southeastern Wisconsin.

 


A Multiproxy Analysis of Culinary, Technological, and Environmental Interactions in the Northern Great Lakes Region

By Susan M. Kooiman
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Michigan State University
December 2018

A novel combination of analytic methods is used to address the decades-long debate about diachronic subsistence, settlement, and social pattern changes during the Woodland period (AD 1 – 1600) in the northern Great Lakes of North America. While some have argued for dietary continuity throughout the regional Woodland, others maintain that certain specific resources—including fish, wild starchy plants, and/or maize—were more intensively exploited over time in reaction to various technological, social, and/or environmental factors.  The Cloudman site (20CH6), located on Drummond Island off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Lake Huron, is a multicomponent habitation site with two millennia of Middle Woodland, early Late Woodland, and late Late Woodland occupations, as well as a late precontact component characterized by Ontario Iroquois pottery. The ceramic assemblage is therefore ideal for diachronic assessment of alterations in diet and technology in the context of dynamic natural and social environments and is employed as a case study for the multiproxy approach.

Ceramic typological classification and AMS dating of pottery residues are used to reconstruct an occupational history of the Cloudman site by which change over time can be evaluated. Functional pottery analysis of technical properties and use-alteration traces reveals that ceramic technology and cooking techniques evolved to facilitate new subsistence and processing needs. Absorbed lipid residue analysis, and microbotanical and stable isotope analysis of adhered carbonized food residue are used in tandem to construct a chronological sequence of culinary practices, which are characterized by both continuity of certain subsistence traditions, such as acorn and aquatic resource consumption, and transformative food choice in response to social and environmental change, including variable exploitation of maize and wild rice.

The diversity of the information captured and produced by each method highlights the importance of multiproxy dietary analyses in foodways studies for improving interpretive outcomes. Cooking and pottery technology lend further insight into adaptive decision-making and cultural tradition, and interpretations of past cuisine are further supported and enhanced through comparisons with ethnographic and ethnohistoric accounts of local indigenous cooking and diet. The rich data resulting from the complementary nature of these diverse methods demonstrates a complex interplay of technology, environment, and culturally-based decisions, and underscores the potential applications of such an analytic suite to long-standing problems in the northern Great Lakes and other archaeological contexts worldwide.

 


by Danielle L. Kiesow
Masters Thesis Abstract
Applied Archaeology Program
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
May 2018

The Grand Portage Reservation in the northeastern tip of Minnesota is home to the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe). Previous archaeological research has focused on eighteenth-century fur trade operations at the expense of Ojibwe erasure before and after the fur trade. Until recently, no research at Grand Portage had analyzed the extensive Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) presence on the Reservation from 1854 to 1930. This thesis analyzes land use at the OIA Complex Site (21CK0369). Historical documentation, artifact analysis, and phytoliths constitute the lines of evidence used for land use interpretations at the site. Evidence has determined that various government farmers lived on the property but did not farm. Results suggest land use organization is akin to typical Euro-American consumer life. Instead of farming, government farmers likely acted as a second set of eyes for the United States Government to police Ojibwe activities and ensure paternalistic control.

 


Stone Tools and Agricultural Communities: Economic, Microwear, and Residue Analyses of Wisconsin Oneota Lithic Assemblages

by Katherine M. Sterner
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2018

This dissertation is an investigation into community organization as an approach to understanding the shift from typologically complex to a simpler lithic technology after circa A.D. 500 in the Prairie Peninsula. The research compares Oneota lithic practice in western Wisconsin (A.D. 1400-1700) at the La Crosse locality to that in eastern Wisconsin (A.D. 1100-1450) at the Koshkonong locality to develop a model for communities in two different geographic and temporal contexts.

Three types of lithic analyses were conducted on nine different Wisconsin Oneota sites to achieve research goals. Assemblage analysis was conducted on all nine assemblages. The goal of this approach is to produce datasets that enable researchers to address questions about settlement patterns, procurement systems, social networks and other issues that affect raw material acquisition, tool production, tool use and tool discard. Microwear analysis was conducted on a sample of four site assemblages. This represents the first comprehensive microwear analysis to be conducted on any Oneota lithic assemblage. This dataset provides critical information on stone tool use. Finally, a small sample of lithic tools from one site was tested for protein residue. This third analysis technique provided more specific information on lithic tool function.

The data indicate that the Koshkonong Oneota tradition was characterized by a tightly knit multi-village community while evidence of such a community unit at La Crosse does not exist. Evidence from microwear analysis indicates that both men and women used lithic tools and that women produced some, if not most of the lithic tools. The decline in formal lithic tool complexity and diversity through time was likely the result of a shift in the gendered division of labor of producing stone tools.

 


Climate Change, Migration, and the Emergence of Village Life on the Mississippian Periphery: A Middle Ohio Valley Case Study

by Aaron Comstock
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Ohio State University
May 2017

The emergence of agrarian village life in the Middle Ohio Valley has traditionally been viewed as an isolated, autochthonous development. Fort Ancient (AD 1000-1650) societies are seen as direct descendants of preceding Late Woodland (AD 500-1000) groups. The processes presumed to underlie this transition are gradual aggregation and a growing reliance on maize over time. This project examines village development in detail at Turpin (33HA19), a well-known transitional site in the Little Miami Valley of southwestern Ohio. Relying on the tenets of macroevolutionary theory, I develop a multiscalar framework with four scales of analysis focused on better understanding village development. First, I thoroughly examine one early Fort Ancient site, Turpin, with a focus on community structure, household architecture, chronology, and material culture. Second, I place these finding in the context of contemporary communities in the Middle Ohio Valley, comparing sites based on community structure, architectural style, and ceramic characteristics. Third, I expand scope of analysis by adding contemporary early Mississippian sites in the Lower Ohio Valley and eastern Tennessee, providing a comparative framework for understanding the importance of interregional contact in cultural change. Finally, considering cultural transitions during the period between AD 1000 and AD 1400 occurred in the context of the Medieval Climate Anomaly, I use prehistoric drought data to examine shifting climatic conditions in the Midcontinent. These conditions reflect potential push and pull factors influencing the movement of people throughout this region.

The findings of this multiscalar project provide evidence that the early Fort Ancient period in the Lower Miami Valleys was catalyzed by an influx of Mississippian migrants. Excavations at Turpin have produced evidence of two early Fort Ancient communities. One house in each community was excavated. House 1 is a Mississippian-style wall trench structure first constructed between cal. AD 1040 and cal. AD 1188, and then renovated between cal. AD 1162 and cal. AD 1250. The basin of this structure was filled with refuse, including Mississippian-like shell tempered vessels with plain surfaces. House 2 is another Mississippian-style wall trench structure built between cal. AD 1206 and cal. AD 1270. This house basin was filled with more classic Fort Ancient ceramics after its occupation ended.

Comparing early Fort Ancient sites in the Lower Miami Valleys with contemporary Fort Ancient and Mississippian sites suggests that communities in the Middle Ohio Valley like Turpin, Guard, and State Line were occupied by Mississippian people. These three sites all demonstrate notable Mississippian characteristics, including shell tempered ceramics, circular villages, wall trench houses, and non-local individuals. The movement of Mississippians into the Middle Ohio Valley occurred at a time in which Mississippian polities to the west experienced significant multidecadal droughts. During this time, the Middle Ohio Valley remained relatively wet. These conditions provided important push (drought) and pull (wet conditions) factors for maize agriculturalists. I argue that mounting evidence from Turpin and other early Fort Ancient sites, many of which stand in stark contrast to preceding Late Woodland settlements, reflect the remains of Mississippian communities, the founders of which emigrated from Mississippian centers like Angel, Kincaid, and Cahokia.

 


Late Paleo-Indian Period Lithic Economies, Mobility, and Group Organization in Wisconsin

by Ethan A. Epstein
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
December 2016

The following dissertation focuses upon the organization of Pleistocene / Holocene period lithic technology in Wisconsin circa 10,000 – 10,500 years before present. Lithic debitage and flaked stone tools from the Plainview/Agate Basin components of the Heyrman I site (47DR381), the Dalles site (47IA374), and the Kelly North Tract site at Carcajou Point(47JE02) comprise the data set. These Wisconsin sites are located within a post glacial Great Lakes dune environment, an inland drainage/riverine environment, and an inland wetland/lacustrine environment. An assemblage approach is used to examine the structure of each site’s lithic economy. This broad approach to lithic organization is taken in order to maximize the number of lithic categories for comparison and avoid the more narrow scope of understanding that can result from focusing upon a single lithic category. Prior research has shown that the examination of lithic technology provides a well-founded basis for inference regarding small group economy, mobility, and organization. Current investigations suggest that small groups present during the Pleistocene/Holocene transition may have practiced two bilateral economies, one based more upon lower group mobility or logistical mobility, the other based more upon residential or higher group mobility. These distinctions are important given that our understanding of the correlation between resource use, mobility, and small group organization with environment may be critical in adapting to current socioeconomic problems. Although few Pleistocene/Holocene transition period sites have been systematically investigated in Wisconsin, this examination suggests that both early Paleoindian and late Paleoindian/Early Archaic economies and mobility strategies varied with localized environments. Examination of the data recovered from the Heyrman I, Dalles, and North Tract sites increases the understanding of economic adaptations, small group mobility, and group structure across multiple environments and provides further insight into human responses to changing resource conditions.

 


Investigating the Functions of Copper Material Culture from Four Oneota Sites of the Lake Koshkonong Region

by Jacqueline Marie Pozza
Abstract of Masters Thesis
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
December 2016

This thesis explores Oneota use of native copper in the Lake Koshkonong locality between A.D. 1100 and 1400. Over 600 pieces of Oneota copper artifacts originating from four sites were documented and analyzed in order to investigate distribution, production, utilization, and the ideological and social significance behind this raw material. The artifacts analyzed for this study were recovered from Oneota sites adjacent to Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County, Wisconsin: Crabapple Point (47JE93), Schmeling (47JE833), Koshkonong Creek Village (47JE379), and Crescent Bay Hunt Club (47JE904). These assemblages primarily included awls, beads, pendants, and fragmented material. The data set also includes unique items, such as adzes and a copper mace. Data collected through this project supported multiple conclusions surrounding Lake Koshkonong Oneota copper use. Manufacturing marks on beads provide arguments for multiple manufacturing traditions in the area. The use-wear observed on awls both support and question previous assumptions of their use. Additionally, the distribution of these artifacts among the sites and the iconographic symbols present among the collections suggest larger ideological and social significance of copper within Oneota groups. It also appears that the Lake Koshkonong locality has a prolonged tradition of metalworking that extends from Archaic to Historic period, implying a cultural association with metal production and the physical setting of these sites. Overall, these conclusions suggest that the Oneota viewed copper as a prestige good. These valued items both established and reaffirmed social order and legitimized the ideological, economic, military, and political power of certain individuals or kin groups living along the northwest shores of Lake Koshkonong at this time.

 


Late Archaic Hunter-Gatherer Lithic Technology and Function (Chipped Stone, Ground Stone, and Fire-Cracked Rock): A Study of Domestic Life, Foodways, and Seasonal Mobility on Grand Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

by Fernanda Neubauer
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin-Madison
December 2016

My doctoral research highlights the complicated trajectories of hunter-gatherers by offering a case study from an understudied but rich hunter-gatherer landscape, the Late Archaic period (c. 5,000-2,000 BP) on Grand Island, Michigan. My analysis of 39,186 lithics from five sites on the island more than doubles the current number of c. 32,000 lithics analyzed in the entire Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from dated Late Archaic sites. In order to investigate how people made decisions related to domestic life, foodways, technology, settlement patterns, seasonal mobility, and landscape interactions on Grand Island, my study integrates multiple lines of evidence — chipped stone, ground stone, fire-cracked rock, artifact spatial distribution analysis, faunal, floral, and lipid residue analyses — to portray a thorough picture of ancient daily life in the region. The primary research objective is focused on identifying domestic life and mobility practices on Grand Island during the Late Archaic period and understanding how these patterns may reflect the strategies of local communities. I suggest that Grand Island represented an important place in the landscape for ancient peoples who repeatedly utilized the island for seasonal social aggregations during autumn to process foods communally in relatively larger scales. Because organic remains are poorly preserved in the region, fire-cracked rock (FCR) is key to investigating ancient diets and how foods were processed and cooked. Although FCRs dominate the Late Archaic assemblage on Grand Island and are found in great quantities at hunter-gatherer sites around the world, FCRs remain an understudied analytical artifact type. I conducted FCR experiments and developed a methodology to analyze FCRs with the purpose of identifying the general signatures of various thermal alteration patterns. My results indicate great inter-site variability among FCR characteristics, cooking methods, and cooking facilities at the studied sites. The larger goal of this study is to contribute to a new appreciation of FCR beyond current approaches that are often limited to basic quantification or presence/absence reporting. The recontextualization of FCR proposed in this dissertation could lead scholars investigating hunter-gatherer sites worldwide to a better understanding of the ancient diets and behaviors associated with food production and site formation processes.

 


The Introduction of Havana-Hopewell in West Michigan and Northwest Indiana: An Integrative Approach to the Identification of Communities, Interaction Networks, and Mobility Patterns

by Jeff Chivis
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Michigan State University
May 2016

This research examines approximately 500 Middle Woodland (~150 B.C. – A.D. 400) pottery samples from 56 habitation and burial mound sites in west Michigan and northwest Indiana to identify the different types of mechanisms that were associated with the introduction and persistence of Havana-Hopewellian information and ceramic technology in the study region. It achieves this by fusing stylistic pottery analyses with compositional (i.e., ceramic petrography) analyses to define the social boundaries of different types of communities on multiple spatial scales.

The results have provided insight into the complex and dynamic types of cultural interactions and mobility patterns operating within the study region, the distinct behavioral patterns unique to each individual community, and the assortment of mechanisms responsible for the spread and maintenance of Havana-Hopewell. Mechanisms identified in this research include diffusion, fission, migration, family visitation, the likely frequent intermarriage between communities, the seasonal use or scheduling of resource use within buffer zones, territorial expansion, pilgrimage, potential community merger, down-the- line exchange, the likely exchange of food and other material goods, and a shared multi-community mortuary program. The results ultimately suggest that social boundaries on both local and regional spatial scales were open, fluid, and probably unbounded.