Curating Angel Update: Freshwater Drum Fish

by Samantha Schlegel

Image of Samantha on the left of the statue which stands several heads taller than her.
Samantha next to statue of Hatshepsut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (July 2019)

Hello Everyone! My name is Samantha Schlegel! I am a new member of the SAT/IMLS funded Curating Angel. I am working as a Curator’s Assistant. I have had a great time wearing a mask and sorting faunal bones for the end part of my summer. I am currently an undergraduate at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis. I am studying Art History and Museum Studies.

This project has given me so much learning experience in what goes on behind the scenes in museums and archaeology labs which I can take into the field once I earn my Bachelors. I am hoping to be back for next summer and cannot wait to continue on the next few parts of this project which includes ceramics and lithics. Personally, I cannot wait to look at the ceramics and see what they used to decorate them, as well as what type of designs may be on the ceramics. There is always something new to find and something new to learn, which is why I am so interested in the rehousing project. Not only do I learn something new about an artifact each day, I get to explore part of history as well.

Sketch of a freshwater drum fish in color
Freshwater drum fish (image via Wikipedia)

As a member of this team, I have gotten to sort through many types of faunal bones and was not quite sure what I would find. We have found tons of different bones and it is always fun to ask Amanda Burtt (Associate Curator for the rehousing project) what bones belong to each animal. But recently, I have found an interesting bone that I had never really seen before. It belongs to the Freshwater Drum fish. These bones are called pharyngeal bones. They include lots of different molar like teeth that help the Freshwater Drum eat its meals. The question that came with this was why do we have so many of these bones among our faunal bones? Also, what did the Mississippians use Drum fish for? So today, you guys get to explore that with me!

Let’s start with some of the fast facts about the Freshwater Drum fish. The earliest written data for the Freshwater Drum fish was created in the late 1800s. Their native range is from the Midwest region straight down through some of the southern region of the United States. They are primarily found in clear water, large rivers and small, shallow lakes. They are “bottom feeders” meaning their diets include mollusks, insects, crayfish, minnows, amphipods, and the younger drum eat zooplankton. Their best known food to eat now is the zebra mollusk which is an invasive species here in the United States. Its predators include bigger fish and humans. The Freshwater Drum fish can range up to 10 to 14 inches in length. They can live around 6 to 13 years. They spawn during May and June laying up to 600,000 eggs. I did find out in some later research that in today’s world, Freshwater Drum fish are not very appetizing. They are not really used for table food due to their meaty consistency and taste. This fact created more questions as expected from such a weird fact.

Moving onto my questions: why do we have so many of the Pharyngeal bones in our faunal bones? What did the Mississippians use Drum fish for? What if the Mississippians didn’t eat the meat, then who did they give it to? Beginning with the first question, we find tons of the Pharyngeal bones among the bone artifacts for the rehousing project. They range in multiple sizes, probably from baby drum to adult drum sizes. From what I have read in other archaeological research, there were two possible hypotheses for the use of Freshwater Drum fish. One of the hypotheses was the usage of their vertebrae; there was a calcium deposit that was used for jewelry. I personally do not feel this hypothesis makes sense, due to the amount of fish vertebrae we find but also the lack of evidence that supported it. The second hypothesis talked about the Freshwater Drum fish otoliths. Otoliths are a unique ear bone. Today people find these otoliths and call them “lucky stones”. They are used for jewelry today, and the hypothesis also suggests that they may be used for jewelry. The issue I am facing is that we have not seen a single otolith among our bone artifacts.

The information I have found has led me to create hypotheses for some of the questions I started with in the beginning. One hypothesis I have thought of is that because Freshwater Drum fish are not known for eating, they may have fed that meat to their domesticated animals (dogs). My second hypothesis is that we may find the otoliths among the stone artifacts. We sadly won’t know this until we get into those artifacts, which may be next summer, but it will be on our radar! Hopefully we will have more updates on the Freshwater Drum as we continue the rehousing project and definitely will find more interesting bones as we go!


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Artifact Spotlight: The Negative

Short description of negative-painted pottery sherd from Angel Mounds.

by April Sievert, Director

I spotted this pot-sherd as our curation assistant, Hannah Ballard (IU’18), was inventorying our ‘type’ collection of ceramics from Angel Mounds, the 13th century town on the Ohio River near Evansville. The piece, from the broad rim of a large plate, boasts a signature decorating technique—negative painting. Potters at Angel Mounds made plates of clay tempered with fine pieces of shell, and applied multiple layers of slip or pigment to create designs around the rim in black, red and buff-clay colors.  While I’m used to seeing painted sherds with crossed-circle and geometric designs, this was the first time I’d actually seen one of the two sherds from Angel that sport a bi-lobed arrow/bowstring motif. The red arrow shows through a layer of black. The motif is a very special one for Mississippian people, seen far and wide across the Mississippi Valley and Southeast. Finding the design at Angel Mounds underscores how far afield people of Angel communicated.

Seeing this design reminded me of another Mississippian collection that I documented for the Smithsonian Institution’s Repatriation Office nearly 30 years ago. That site is Spiro, located along the Arkansas River in far eastern Oklahoma. Spiro was infamously looted in the 1930s, and later excavated as part of the Works Projects Administration, just like Angel. At Spiro, the motif had been carved into the outsides of whelk shells that hail from the Gulf of Mexico. Bi-lobed designs also show up also on hair ornaments, rock art, and rendered in native copper spread far across the Southeast.  

But what does the motif mean? Association with the bow and arrow seems pretty clear, with a possibility that the lobes reflect back to the atlatl, or spear thrower. It could also be indirectly reflective of a traditional Siouan culture hero known as Redhorn, or ‘he who gets hit with deer lungs’. Professor Robert Hall was an Indigenous symbolic archaeologist from Wisconsin, and one of my graduate mentors, who had made this connection. Could the two lobes in the design harken back to an image of deer lungs attached to a trachea? We can’t really know for sure, but it is clear is that ancient Indigenous people along the Ohio engaged in a system of ceremony, communication, and artistry that far exceeds the confines of an agricultural site in the central Ohio Valley.

Spring 2019: Work with Wylie House Collections Continues

by Eric Carlucci

Beginning the spring 2019 semester with the Wylie House project meant continuing the categorizing and labeling of artifacts from the excavation. I ended the fall semester in the middle of working with the glass artifacts, and was unable to finish this by the beginning of winter break. When the semester started back up, I returned right where I left off.

The glass was a bit easier to label overall, as the B72 labeling material applied and dried much easier than it had on the ceramics. The same general process of labeling was performed: first a layer of B72, write the account number, category, and subcategory numbers over the dried B72; then another layer over top of what was written to prevent smudging. Instead of doing every piece that was large enough, it was determined the best process would be to label the ten largest pieces in each subcategory. This was decided because the glass was far more numerous than the ceramics, with over two thousand sherds, and because the vast majority was either aqua or clear flat glass. Some container glass and other types were found, but the overwhelming majority belonged to these other two classifications.

With the help of Lauren, an undergraduate student, we were able to finish labeling all the glass as of the end of January. Following the completion of the glass, we turned our attention to the next major category: metal artifacts. The metal was to be done a bit differently. Instead of labeling the artifacts directly, we were to just fill out the account card in the same way we had done with the other artifacts and use a specialized tag for larger and more unique artifacts. We did not have the special tags as of the time of this writing, but we will be doing this as soon as we receive them.

Fall 2018: Work with Wylie House Collections

by Eric Carlucci

The second half of the Wylie House project in the Fall semester of 2018 was focused on analysis of the ceramic materials. Along with students from an Archaeological Lab Methods course occurring at the same time, ceramics would be analyzed and discussed. To prepare, I was tasked with organizing ceramics into like categories (such as unglazed earthenware, porcelain, and many more), then labeling each piece with the Glenn Black account number, category number, and subcategory number. In order to do this, we applied a thin layer of a quick-drying agent called B72 to a part of the artifact, and then would write over this once it had dried with the lab’s account number, the category number, and subcategory number on each sherd.

The account number reflected the number which will be used to file all Wylie House June 2018 artifacts; the category number reflects the artifact type within the field specimen (or level) bag; and the subcategory number reflects the more specific type of artifacts, such as porcelain or unglazed earthenware. This was a long, drawn-out task of labeling hundreds of sherds, and took place over a number of weeks. At this same time, I was preparing for my qualifying exams to pass through into Ph.D. candidacy. Taking some weeks off to focus on that made the task more urgent to complete in a very short period of time. Thankfully, the hard work paid off, and the ceramic sherds were all completed for the students in time.

Once the students were in their groups, they each focused on a different category. I helped the students where I could, discussing the ceramics or clarifying the object categorization. The students looked through both the sherds and related books and articles to help formulate a good overview of the types of ceramics present at the excavation and the site. They were to create a final project presentation based on their research to present during finals week. At the same time the students were performing their research, I began the process of labeling the next major material category: glass. This aspect of the project continued into the Spring semester, as there was far more glass than even ceramics! The labeling and categorizing of the glass was a similar process as the ceramics. Returning to the student analysis, the end of the semester went well, and the projects proved to be well thought out.

Artifact Identification at the Wylie House

by Lauren Schumacher

My name is Lauren Schumacher and I’m a sophomore studying history and archaeology. I participated in the Wylie House field school in summer 2018, and am now working with the Wylie House and the Glenn Black Lab to help process some Wylie collections and develop a mapping system to log artifacts found on the property in the future.

Garden volunteers have been finding artifacts on the property long before the field school excavations took place. Although the most artifacts were recovered during the construction of the Education Center in 2009, bottles, ceramics, buttons, and bones are often found in and around the garden beds. Since these are isolated artifacts found outside of an official archaeological dig, part of my job has been to create a user-friendly digital map and artifact form to allow people to pinpoint where they found an artifact and describe what it is. This is a way to ensure we have information about the artifact from the time it was found and to make future artifact processing more organized. As artifacts begin to be logged, it will be interesting to see the distribution of artifacts on the map and if there are any concentrations of certain artifact types in a particular area.

In addition to the digital map, I’ve been making an artifact identification guide and an animal bone identification guide for the Wylie House. This process has consisted of researching and compiling information about the major categories of artifacts found at the Wylie House: ceramics, bottles, nails, flat glass, buttons, marbles, and bricks. Each of these categories are broken down into more specific types, such as material, decoration, and use. The hope is that this guide will help students and volunteers better identify and describe artifacts. For example, using the guide, one would be able to identify a ceramic fragment as “salt glazed stoneware” instead of just “ceramic.” Similarly, the bone identification guide will help with the identification of animal bones and butcher marks. In this guide, I looked at the skeletal structure of common types of animals raised and consumed on a 19th century frontier farm: horses, pigs, cows, sheep, and deer. This guide proved harder to research, as nearly every search for specific bones or marks just turned up articles on grilling or pictures of modern butchering. However, I also found this research very interesting as I had never studied bones or butchering techniques before.

As the semester goes on, I look forward to helping the Wylie House as they process more artifacts in their collection and prepare for future excavations!

Processing Artifacts from the Wylie House

by Lauren Schumacher

I’ve spent most of the year getting to know the various Wylie House collections. After being introduced to the Wylie House through the summer field school, I’ve started to process the artifacts rescued during the construction of the education center at Wylie, helped process the artifacts collected during the field school, and completed a Wylie ceramic analysis project for a class in laboratory methods in archaeology.

I started processing the collection at Wylie last semester by roughly sorting the artifacts into their types and cleaning them. Once they were sorted into the broad categories of glass, metal, and ceramic, I started to further sort the ceramics into categories based on the type of ceramic, decorations, and type of vessel sherd (rim, body, or base). Once the sorting is finished, we will be able to start labeling the artifacts and entering them into the database. The system for labeling will be a little less complicated than the one we have been using for the summer excavation collection, since these artifacts weren’t formally excavated. Working with the ceramics has been fun, but I’m looking forward to finishing the sorting and start the labeling process as it will be a nice change of pace.

From this work at Wylie, labeling the summer excavation artifacts has been interesting since I’ve been able to recognize many of the pieces through my other work with Wylie artifacts. In particular, there is a set of glass tumblers that I first saw in Sherry’s collection that continue to pop up in the glass fragments collected during the summer excavation. Finding these surprising little connections has definitely made the labeling of hundreds of flat glass fragments more exciting. With that being said, I am looking forward to being done with the glass and starting to label the metal artifacts. After seeing a collection all the way through from excavation to labeling, I’m excited to get back to work on the Wylie collection and see it completely processed after being neglected for so many years.

The Importance of Archaeology from the Not So Distant Past

march 1, 2018

by Aaron Estes, GBL Archaeological Field Technician

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Acknowledgement of State and Federal Assistance
This project has been funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. The project received federal financial assistance for the identification, protection, and/or rehabilitation of historic properties and cultural resources in the State of Indiana. However, the contents and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability in its federally assisted programs. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.
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In the public imagination a lot of attention is typically given to ancient and prehistoric remains; a sometimes underappreciated segment of the field is the study of those remains from more recent history. This type of work, commonly referred to as historical archaeology, includes the identification, collection, documentation, and preservation of artifacts and structures which could be as few as 50 years old or younger if deemed significant. However, these artifacts allow archaeologists the unique opportunity to study history through objects that are possibly more familiar and relatable. One such artifact from the 2017 GBL Bean Blossom Creek Survey of the IU Research and Teaching Preserve is a Coca-Cola bottle from 1954.

Since it is fair to assume that many people today have drank from or at least seen a Coca-Cola bottle in their lives, this bottle is a perfect example of how familiar yet historic object can be used to help people better relate to a different period in time.

Sometimes archaeological artifacts offer little information when extremely fragmented or deteriorated, but this piece is a unique situation since it was recovered fully intact and in relatively pristine condition. Even luckier is the fact that this bottle comes from an era in which glass bottles were machine-made with distinct marks to identify a wealth of information including the bottle’s contents, manufacturer, and production date. Thus a large portion of this Coca-Cola bottle’s lifespan can be easily uncovered by decoding the various numbers and symbols embossed on the bottles surface.

Based on the specific codes on the base and body of this Coca-Cola bottle we know that it was manufactured in 1954 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by the Chattanooga Glass Company. It was then sent to Bloomington, Indiana, to be bottled in the town’s Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, and from there likely sold to a local resident. The first code that sets off this chain of information is the date code located on the lower body of the bottle reading “54-05.”

This represents the year 1954 and mold number 5 from which the bottle was made (Lockhart and Porter 2010; Lockhart 2000). Next in the center of the bottle’s base is the letter “C” enclosed in a small circle. This mark signifies the Chattanooga Glass Company, and more specifically the company’s Chattanooga plant which produced Coca-Cola bottles with this logo from the 1927 until the 1980s (Lockhart et al. 2014). Surrounding the circle C logo was embossed “BLOOMINGTON – IND” — this text indicates that this bottle was meant for the bottling plant in Bloomington, Indiana, which bottled Coca-Cola from 1924 to 1989.

The Bloomington Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, which is today a recognized historic site on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), still stand at 318 S. Washington St. near downtown Bloomington (Brennan 1999).

By User: Farleyeye (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) ]
Though manufacturer marks are the easiest way to identify a historic glass bottle of this era, it is not the only way. The design and diagnostic features of a bottle, especially in the case of Coca-Cola, are also useful in dating pieces when dates or manufacturing marks are absent. The first essential step in dating a Coca-Cola bottle is finding out which of the three Coca-Cola patent designs the bottle was made from. Based on this bottle’s specific design features, it was of the third patent variation that was patented in 1937, which is the design still commonly seen today (Lockhart (b) 2010; Lockhart (a) 2000). Although the classic “hobble-skirt” design was first patented in 1915, the distinct design features of the 1937 bottle patent included a thicker waist with a higher constriction, a flattened base, and more elliptical side flutes between the trademark panels. Additionally this was likely one of the last bottles to have the Coca-Cola logo embossed on the glass, since this design was replaced by Applied Color Lettering in 1955. Finally, the last unique marking on this bottle that separates it from the other bottles of similar design is the phrase “TRADE-MARK REGISTERED IN THE U.S. PATENT OFFICE” embossed just below the Coca-Cola label on one side. This patent designation was introduced in 1951 and was used until the introduction of the recognizable “®” symbol in 1962. Using an aggregate of all this information this bottle can be relatively dated between 1951 and 1955 without ever looking at a single manufacturing mark.

Hopefully now it is clear that a lot of history can be extrapolated from such a small and seemingly insignificant object. But these artifacts are even more intriguing when put into greater context. For instance, 1954 was the midst of the Cold War and the U.S. was still experiencing the post war economic boom in which new middle class families were buying up consumer goods like televisions to watch popular programs like “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “I Love Lucy,” and “Father Knows Best.” Dwight D. Eisenhower was in his second year in office, the Polio vaccine was first used (eventually saving millions of lives), and the case of Brown v. Board of Education reached its final verdict, ending segregation in U.S. public schools. And at Indiana University history Herman B Wells was president, the Alumni Association was founded, and the Sigma Nu fraternity would win the fourth ever Little 500 on a Roadmaster bicycle. Looking from a broader scope it should be obvious how a simple Coca-Cola bottle can take on a greater meaning when considered alongside the history of the past 63 years. Because in context, not only does this small bottle represent the history of Coca-Cola, but it is also a part of the history of the United States, the city of Bloomington, and Indiana University.

Therefore while at times archaeology can appear to be unapproachable when considering the deep and abstract past, it is artifacts like this one that are the key to connecting people with a more intimate history. Not only is this bottle a tangible representation of the past, unlike the text in a book, but it is also something familiar and recognizable to a general audience. This familiarity makes it a perfect example of something that can bring people back to over 50 years of U.S. history. Regardless of how it ended up in that ravine near Lake Griffy, artifacts like this have the potential to bring to life history that people can relate to, and these are the artifacts that historical archaeologists are looking to uncover and share with the world.

References:

Brennan, Kristen

1999    The Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant. National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination Form. Preservation Development Inc., Bloomington, IN (June 7, 1999).

Lockhart, Bill

2000    Chapter 8c Bottles of the Magnolia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Bottles on the Border: The History and Bottles of the Soft Drink Industry in El Paso, Texas, 1881-2000 333-354. DOI: https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/EPChap8c.pdf

Lockhart, Bill and Bill Porter

2010    The Dating Game: Tracking the Hobble-Skirt Coca-Cola Bottle. Bottles and Extras 46-61. DOI: https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/coca-cola.pdf

Lockhart, Bill, Beau Schriever, Carol Serr, and Bill Lindsey

2014    Chattanooga Glass Co.. Society of Historic Archaeology Inc. 225-246. DOI: https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/ChattanoogaGlass.pdf

A Point in Time

February 19, 2018

by Isabel Osmundsen, GBL Archaeological Field Technician

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Acknowledgement of State and Federal Assistance
This project has been funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. The project received federal financial assistance for the identification, protection, and/or rehabilitation of historic properties and cultural resources in the State of Indiana. However, the contents and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability in its federally assisted programs. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.
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The process of identifying and dating an artifact can be an elusive one.

Imagine, if you will, being an artifact, a tool, held by a human for the first time in thousands of years. Much has changed from when you were discarded, forgotten, or lost, after you were used for the last time. What do you share about your own lifespan and the era from whence you came from with this person?

In the summer of 2017, the Glenn A. Black Laboratory conducted a survey project headed by Principal Investigator Associate Research Scientist Elizabeth Watts Malouchos, in which I participated as a field technician. The survey covered nature preserves in northern Monroe County across the watershed of Bean Blossom Creek, seeking to find new prehistoric sites. In the many acres of forest and field that we dug shovel test probes or walked over where visibility was high, we found naught a diagnostic prehistoric artifact—yet the effort was not fruitless. As a moderately-sized group carrying buckets, shovels, tarp, and daypacks traipsing through the woods, our work often catches the eye of those observing us from the fringes as they go about their daily business, arousing their curiosity and usually leading to conversation and education about our work.

While surveying in a less-frequented part of the Indiana University Griffy Lake Research and Teaching Preserve (RTP), we ran into IU RTP Property manager, Michael Chitwood. He showed us a projectile point that another IU researcher had previously discovered in a creek bed on the property. Utilizing artifacts for research which were not systematically collected by trained archaeologists can be a double-edged sword; not everyone is aware of all the standard procedures used by professionals, such as maintaining provenience, but they may have finds that contribute to the record and help fill in the blanks. Pitblado (2014) argues that, according to the Society for American Archaeology’s own guidelines, it is actually unethical for professional archaeologists to wholly discount collectors’ finds, and instead should seek out collaboration with them. In our case, we were lucky in that Michael and the IU researcher recognized the importance of the artifact and its provenience, and recorded where it was found.

Once the GBL subsumes the projectile into its collections, the first step is to identify what it is before we can start making interpretations, followed by greater extrapolations about the past, regarding the people who used the point and how they lived. Two markers of identification are: what material it was made from, and what type of projectile it is exactly. This entails utilizing the GBL’s own Type Collections by taking the specimen and attempting to visually or tactilely match it with known specimens, which seems like a cut and dry process—until it isn’t.

One issue archaeologists encounter while doing analysis is, to borrow from Captain Cragen of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, “We don’t get to pick the vic[tim].” The proverbial victim here being artifacts, archaeologists do not have the option to choose to work with the most illustrative artifacts of the past or the ones in the best condition, but we make the best of what we find. Contrary to what Indiana Jones and Lord Carnarvon might have led you to believe, many archaeological finds are not so “sexy.” From the time they are deposited, artifacts have to battle the elements, which can cause wear and tear. This exposure can simulate use wear and overinflate how much an artifact was utilized in its life, skewing our interpretations. Case in point, (ba-dum-tss) the point discussed here was discovered in a creek bed where water and tumbling stones could have polished it, leading us to believe it was utilized more heavily than it was.

Another factor in identification has to do with the classification of different projectile points. The specimen’s identification as a certain type typically demonstrate the peak, distinctive characteristics that define a central group of like artifacts which are associated with a culture. Similar to how law enforcement uses ten points to match fingerprints, an archaeologist tries to match as many observable characteristics in the artifact as they can to those in the type collection. The point discussed here is not the most finely crafted and has been worn by water, hindering this comparison and making it difficult to perfectly match it to a particular type.

This also makes its individual story all the more interesting: was the person knapping this in a hurry? Were they a novice practicing their form? What makes it difficult to tell the story of the deep histories of Monroe County serves to highlight the hand and life of a real individual from long ago, connecting us to them.

After some deliberation, I decided the point seems to be most like a Merom point, of the Terminal Late Archaic culture from 2,000 to 1,000 calibrated BC (Stafford and Cantin 2009) and made of Holland chert, a stone with a waxy to glassy sheen of varying muted colors. This point type is most commonly seen throughout the bottom half of Indiana and parts of Ohio, as far as just across into Missouri, and the upper half of Kentucky (Justice 1987). Holland chert comes from a type of limestone of the Staunton Formation, part of the Pennsylvanian geologic system, named after an exposed outcropping near Holland, Dubois County (Indiana Geological and Water Survey).

Even within this single period, the points greatly vary across time; some have large barbs towards the base, others have a neatly serrated edge. Some are squat and triangular, others are slightly longer and even a bit ovoid.

Around this time, the people of the Archaic started transitioning in the ways they lived. They moved their home bases from creeks and streams to larger confluences and rivers, which could have been due to a change in their environment (Stafford and Cantin 2009). People focused more heavily on collecting and stayed put for longer periods of time, made possible through longer-term plans for the future. Such planning is indicative of a more complex society in which tasks and roles were more delineated, and why such collectors practiced what is termed “logistical mobility,” used in deciding whether to move or stay put, or in other matters such as sending out task groups. (Binford, 1980)

That’s certainly a lot to glean from one diagnostic projectile point! But this argumentation is also what I love about archaeology—our interpretations open up so much about our past that can’t be found in a book. It’s a logical challenge based on the strength of your argument, and cracking that code is an accomplishment that feels like none other.

References cited

Binford, Lewis
1980     Willow Smoke and Dogs’ Tails: Hunter-Gatherer Settlement Systems and Archaeological Site Formation. American Antiquity, 45(1): 4-20. doi:10.2307/279653

Indiana Geological and Water Survey
Holland Limestone Member. Retrieved from https://igws.indiana.edu/compendium/comp6bhg.cfm

Justice, Noel D
1987     Merom Cluster. In Stone age spear and arrow points of the midcontinental and eastern united states (1st paperback ed., pp. 130-132). Indiana University Press. Bloomington.

Pitblado, Bonnie
2014     AN ARGUMENT FOR ETHICAL, PROACTIVE, ARCHAEOLOGIST-ARTIFACT COLLECTOR COLLABORATION. American Antiquity, 79(3): 385-400. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43184913

Stafford, C. Russell, and Mark Cantin
2009     Archaic Period Chronology in the Hill Country of Southern Indiana. In Archaic societies: diversity and complexity across the midcontinent, edited by Thomas E. Emerson, Dale L. McElrath, and Andrew C. Fortier, pp 287-313. State University of New York Press. Albany.

Wolf, Dick (Writer) and Jean De Segonzac (Director)
1999     Payback. Law and order: special victims unit. NBC.