Finishing up at Yankeetown

Written by Michele Greenan, Natural History Collections Manager 

Although our dig is winding to a close, the work-pace picks up 10-fold! As with all digs, you end up finding all kinds of stuff at the end. It is one thing you can truly count on as an archaeologist. Working on the riverbank, Kara and I spent the day collecting various soil samples from each layer of the bank. It was particularly funny because Kara — our trusty registrar — thought she was coming out into the field to get away from paperwork. Ha!

Our goal at the riverbank was to bring together various points of research to get a good idea what the environment may have been like throughout prehistory (throughout the history of the banks development). We had all kinds of folks out to help, including geologists and soil scientists. The red and white pins were laid by geologist Ron Counts and mark general areas where we took soil samples. The small pegs at center are where we took our samples for pollen analysis. We were also able to take C/14 samples from some areas up the bank. All of these lines of evidence will hopefully help us reconstruct what this environment may have been like prehistorically.

Landside, the field school was making tremendous headway uncovering feature after feature. Burned posts in place, large pit features (maybe trash/food preparation?), burned soil, a cache of corn … everything indicating a thriving Yankeetown occupation at this location. Students map, photograph and excavate each feature and then screen the excavated soil for artifacts.

Don’t these pictures scream “I love archaeology!”

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A most excellent find!

Written by Michele Greenan, Natural History Collections Manager

These students are working on a burned post.

A very interesting day to say the least! The trench has really started to show its true colors with features galore! A feature – generally speaking in archaeological terms – is the non-portable cultural evidence. It’s something that, if you take it, you destroy it (so you can’t really take it ‘as is’). Like, for example, evidence that a structure once stood at a particular spot but was later burned down. We see changes in soil and lots and lots of burned soil that form a nice square (in this case) pattern. We found evidence of a structure in 2008, and we have another one now! There are plenty of other things going on, too. There is a line of burned posts in place. We can kinda assume an association between the structures (or, structures in general) and the posts, but not really. We just don’t yet know.

This picture says it all … The sheer joy of doing archaeology and knowing you’re the first one to touch something after it was last held some 800 to 900 years ago. Here, a field school student shows us her find … a chunky stone. In the picture, you can barely see that the stone has been shaped to a perfect round, disk shape. The center of both sides is concave. These stones were used in playing a particular game of the same name. The collections of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites has some beautiful examples of chunky stones, but most lack good provenience. This is a most excellent artifact!

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