SIUE 2010 ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELD SCHOOL INVESTAGATIONS AT THE GEHRING SITE (11MS99)

SIUE 2010 ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELD SCHOOL INVESTAGATIONS AT THE GEHRING SITE (11MS99)
SIUE 2010 ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELD SCHOOL
INVESTAGATIONS AT THE GEHRING SITE (11MS99)
Interim Report
Gregory Vogel
and
Bryan Clemons
With Contributions by
Johanna Guthrie
and
Shannon Murphy
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
2011
2
Index
List of tables.........................................................................................................................3
List of figures.......................................................................................................................4
Abstract................................................................................................................................5
Acknowledgments...............................................................................................................6
Introduction and Background..............................................................................................7
Surface Collection...............................................................................................................9
Geophysical Remote Sensing.............................................................................................11
Test Units and Features.....................................................................................................14
Geoarchaeology (by Shannon Murphy).............................................................................42
Paleoethnobotany (by Johanna Guthrie)............................................................................59
References Cited................................................................................................................72
Appendix A: Test Unit and Feature Artifact Counts.........................................................75
3
List of Tables
Table 1.
Table 2.
Table 3.
Table 4.
Table 5.
Table 6.
Table 7.
Tabulation of 2010 surface collection results.......................................................11
2010 Test Unit summaries………………………………………........................15
2010 Feature summaries………………………………………………………...16
Nutshell specimens during prehistoric time periods………………….........…....64
Seed specimens during prehistoric time periods…………………….........……..64
Feature artifact counts...........................................................................................75
Test unit artifact counts.........................................................................................75
4
List of Figures
Figure 1. The Field Crew (Photo)......................................................................................7
Figure 2. General site area and UTM coordinates (Photo)................................................8
Figure 3. Gehring site within the American Bottom and in relation to Cahokia...............9
Figure 4. Surface collection finds from 2009 and 2010...................................................10
Figure 5. Location of magnetic gradiometer surveys.......................................................12
Figure 6. Magnetic gradiometry map from northern portion of site................................13
Figure 7. Gehring site contour maps with arbitrary grid………………………………..17
Figure 8. 2010 Gehring site map showing test units, feature locations, and site grid…..18
Figure 9. Test unit J plot map showing potential post molds…………………………...19
Figure 10. Test unit J east wall.................………………………………………………19
Figure 11. Test unit K east wall profile (photo)………………………………………...20
Figure 12. Test unit K east wall................……………………………………………...21
Figure 13. Test unit L Base of level 1 (Photo)………………………………………….22
Figure 14. Test unit M plot showing features and potential post molds………………..23
Figure 15. Test unit M feature 111 profile (photo)……………………………………..24
Figure 16. Test unit M north wall profile....……………………………………………24
Figure 17. Test unit M east wall profile.............………………………………………..25
Figure 18. Test unit M west wall profile.....…………………………………………….25
Figure 19. Magnetic gradiometry map showing test units O and P…………………….27
Figure 20. Test unit P north wall profile.....…………………………………………….27
Figure 21. Test unit P base of level 3 (photo)…………………………………………..28
Figure 22. Test unit Q magnetic gradiometry map……………………………………...29
Figure 23. Test unit Q base of plow zone (photo)……………………………………...29
Figure 24. Test unit Q features and bulk density column locations.................…………30
Figure 25. Test unit Q base of level 1 (photo)………………………………………….30
Figure 26. Feature 139 profile.................……………………………………………….31
Figure 27. Feature 138 profile.................……………………………………………….32
Figure 28. Test unit Q south wall profile.....……………………………………………32
Figure 29. Magnetic gradiometry map of Test units R, S, and U………………………33
Figure 30. Test units R, S, and U........................……………………………………….34
Figure 31. Test unit R east wall, and feature 158 profile………..……………………...35
Figure 32. Feature 160 profile (photo)………………………………………………….36
Figure 33. Feature 160 profile.....……………………………………………………….36
Figure 34. Magnetic gradiometry map of test units N and T…………………………...37
Figure 35. Top of feature 162; house corner post (photo)……………………………...38
Figure 36. Feature 162 partially excavated (photo)…………………………………….38
Figure 37. Test units N, T, and associated features........................…………………….39
Figure 38. Feature 161 excavated (photo)……………………………………………...39
Figure 39. Test unit N west wall and feature 161………………………………………40
Figure 40. Test unit T south wall profile.....……………………………………………40
Figure 41. Magnetic gradiometry map of test units T and N and possible house basin..41
Figure 42. Gehring site topographic map with soil core locations……………………..44
Figure 43. Soil Core 1 - sand, silt, clay distribution graph……………………………..46
5
Figure 44.
Figure 45.
Figure 46.
Figure 47.
Figure 48.
Figure 49.
Figure 50.
Figure 51.
List of Figures, Continued
Soil core 1 - particle size distribution graph………………………………...47
Soil core graph showing east to west alignment……………………..……...51
Soil core graph showing north to south alignment…………………..……...52
Features plotted by depth, north to south.......................................................53
Features plotted by depth, east to west..........................................................54
Soil core clay percentages north to south......................................................55
Soil core clay percentages east to west…………....………………………..56
1941 and 2010 aerial photos and photo showing change in the landform….57
6
Abstract
The Southern Illinois University (SIUE) 2010 archaeological field school was conducted
at the Gehring site (11MS99) on the campus of SIUE. Investigations included surface collection,
topographic mapping, a magnetic gradiometry survey, soil coring, and excavation of 12 test
units. The test units combined total an area of 46 square meters. A total of 53 features were
excavated, the majority of which were possible post molds. Four pits dating to Middle
Woodland to Emergent Mississippian time periods were also excavated, as well as one apparent
Mississippian period house that appears to have been burnt. Time-diagnostic artifacts at the site
indicate occupations spanning from Archaic to Historic time periods, with the majority of
prehistoric artifacts dating to Middle Woodland and Emergent Mississippian times.
Geoarchaeological investigations indicate that the site has experienced severe erosion in historic
times, and likely experienced at least some erosion in prehistoric times. Paleoethnobotanical
investigations show the presence of maize, at least some of which may date to Middle Woodland
time periods. This research adds to 2009 investigations, and will be continued by SIUE
archaeological field schools for several more years.
7
Acknowledgments
This field school, conducted on the campus of SIUE, was greatly supported by SIUE
administration, particularly Vice Chancellor Kenn Neher, College of Arts and Sciences Dean
Aldemaro Romero, Director of Facilities Management Bob Washburn, and Director of
Administrative Services Bob Vanzo. This institutional support is greatly appreciated. Thanks to
SIUE Department of Anthropology Chair Julie Holt who provided a great deal of personal and
institutional support to the project, offered aid and advice throughout the summer, and set a high
standard at the Gehring site during 2009 field school investigations. Thanks to Keith Probst who
continues to share memories and information from his long association with the site; F. Terry
Norris who also shared information from his previous work at the site; Henry Holt for logistical
support; and the SIUE campus police department for doing their best to keep the looters at bay.
Thanks to Duane Simpson and Ryan Peterson for providing their great technical expertise in
conducting the magnetic gradiometer survey on the first day of the year to register over 100
degrees Fahrenheit. Thanks to John Kelly of Washington University in St. Louis for helping
with pottery identification. Thanks also to Steven Greenleaf for helping to edit and put this
document together. And, the greatest thanks go to the field crew who toiled with unbegrudging
vigor through all of the heat and humidity an American Bottom summer has to offer.
2010 Field School Personnel:
Director:
Gregory Vogel
Technical consultants:
Duane Simpson, Ryan Peterson
Students:
Dan Blodgett, Bryan Clemons, Joe Dietrich, Steven Greenleaf,
Johanna Guthrie, Jolene Hedger, Luke Leady, Kris Morgan,
Shannon Murphy, Rose Serio, Vikki Weaver
Figure 1: The field crew.
8
Introduction and Background
This interim report outlines the fieldwork and initial results of the 2010 archaeological
field school conducted by the Department of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University
Edwardsville (SIUE). This field school is an annual offering at SIUE with the goals of teaching
students field and laboratory methods in archaeology, generating datasets for students to employ
in senior research projects and other classes, and furthering our overall understanding of
American Bottom archaeology.
The field school was conducted at the Gehring site (11MS99) on SIUE's campus between
May 17 and July 9 of 2010. Fieldwork included surface collection, the excavation of 12 test
units (for a total of 46 sq. m), soil cores, and magnetic gradiometry surveying. The 2009 field
school (Holt and Belknap 2010) concentrated on the southern portion of the Gehring site, while
the 2010 work primarily focused on the northern portion of the site (Figure 2). This report
presents an overview of the 2010 excavations and initial interpretations. Included in this report
are separate sections concerning geoarchaeology (by Shannon Murphy), and paleoethnobotany
(by Johanna Guthrie), drawn from studies conducted by these field school students as SIUE
senior projects.
Figure 2. Aerial photograph overview of site area, north to the top. White grid lines are UTM
coordinates (Zone 15, NAD83) at 200 m intervals. Black-and-white dashed line represents the
general outline of the Gehring site, on a sandy terrace remnant. In this report, the "northern
9
portion" and "southern portion" of the site are divided approximately by UTM 4297600 N. A
field road and tree line separates a portion of the site from approximately UTM 4297800 N.
In brief, Gehring is a multi-component occupation site with substantial Middle Woodland
and Emergent Mississippian components. A small number of Archaic points have also been
found on the site, and a historic component is also present, but these have not been the focus of
research to date. The site is situated on a late Pleistocene/early Holocene sandy terrace remnant
of the Mississippi River system within the American Bottom (Figure 3). The elevation of the
terrace, three to four meters above the floodplain proper, would have protected it from all but the
highest floods of the Mississippi River and nearby Cahokia Creek, making this an ideal location
for habitation. The site was the subject of SIUE archaeological field schools in the early 1970s,
but unfortunately most of the artifacts and records from these efforts have been lost. General
background on the physical setting and previous research at the Gehring site has already been
outlined in Zimmerman Holt and Belknap (2010:10-14).
Figure 3. Shaded relief overview of Gehring in relation to the American Bottom and central
Cahokia.
10
Surface Collection
A surface collection conduced as part of the 2009 SIUE field school at Gehring recovered
nearly 40,000 artifacts (Holt and Belknap 2010:19-23). A much more limited program of surface
collection was conducted in 2010, generally following the methods of Zimmerman Holt and
Belknap. Surveyors walked transects across portions of the field, approximately 2.5 m apart.
Artifact locations were noted with GPS coordinates and bagged individually. In 2010, the entire
field south of the field road and tree line noted in Figure 2 was surface collected in this way.
Because of the large number of artifacts, groups of artifacts were combined every 3 to 4 meters.
In the "core" of the site (outlined by the dashed line in Figure 2), only diagnostic artifacts were
collected. All artifacts were collected from the rest of the field. Locations of surface collection
finds from both 2009 and 2010 are shown in Figure 4. Table 1 presents artifact tabulations from
the 2010 surface collection.
Figure 4. Aerial photograph of the Gehring site with locations of surface finds. Red circles are
finds from 2009; white squares are finds from 2010. North is to the top. Note that during the
2010 surface collection, only diagnostic artifacts were collected from the "core" area of the site
(primarily the western 1/3 of the field).
11
Table 1. Artifact tabulations from the 2010 surface collection.
Artifact type
Total count
Total weight (g)
Chert
420
1390
Sherds
116
456
Fire-cracked rock
88
2653
Historic*
34
397
Bone
8
30
Ground stone tool (fragments)
4
1202
Shell
4
3
Burned earth
2
0.9
Diagnostic: blade/blade fragment
4
Diagnostic: decorated / rim sherds
3
Diagnostic: biface
2
Diagnostic: shell bead
1
Diagnostic: chrinoid column bead
1
Diagnostic: hoe flake
1
* Historic artifacts are undifferentiated here. They consisted primarily of glass, ceramics, and
metal.
The 2010 surface collection recovered 688 artifacts, primarily from the northeastern and
southern portion of the site. This surface collection generally reinforces patterns revealed by the
2009 collection. A gap in artifact concentrations near the northern portion of the site, just east of
the core site area, represents a low area of the field partially covered in standing water in both
2009 and 2010. Surface collection was not conducted in this area. The concentration of
artifacts near the northeastern portion of the field are on the mid- and toe-slope of an alluvial fan
developed at the base of the bluff line. These likely represent an archaeological site either
related to or unrelated to components at the Gehring site. Alluvial fans are typical locations for
sits in this region, and because of their geomorphic position deeply buried sites are possible. A
separate concentration of artifacts is located at the southern portion of the field, generally
paralleling a drainage canal. It is possible that this concentration of artifacts represents artifacts
from a buried site, dredged onto the surface during the construction or maintenance of the canal.
Further analysis and mapping of artifacts by type from 2009, 2010, and possible subsequent
surface collections will likely yield a richer pattern of overall site structure.
12
Geophysical Remote Sensing
A magnetic gradiometer survey was conducted by Duane Simpson and Ryan Peterson of
AMEC, Inc. over portions of both the southern and northern portion of the site (Figure 5). Only
the northern survey is outlined here. Magnetic gradiometry surveys map the strength of the
earth's magnetic field just above the ground surface. The magnetic field is affected by many
different factors, including alteration and movement of soil in prehistoric times. For example, all
soils have magnetic particles, which are generally randomly oriented. When these particles are
heated to a high temperature, they lose their native orientation, and align with the earth's
magnetic inclination and declination when they cool. Thus a fire hearth can create a mild
magnetic "dipole" field, which can be detected by magnetic gradiometry as distinct from the
background magnetism. Organic soil is generally more magnetic than non-organic soil, so
features with organically enriched soil (as is common in many prehistoric pits) are more
magnetic than the surrounding matrix, which may also be detected by magnetic gradiometry.
The strength of magnetic fields is measured in nanoteslas. Figure 6 is a nanotesla value map of
the northern portion of the site that was surveyed with magnetic gradiometry.
Figure 5. Location of magnetic gradiometer surveys.
13
Figure 6. Magnetic gradiometry map from the northern portion of the Gehring site. Yellow
squares are test unit locations.
While numerous patterns and anomalies are revealed in this gradiometer survey, only the
clearest and most relevant to the 2010 excavations are discussed in this report. Full results from
the survey and the ground testing of anomalies in 2010 and beyond will be published elsewhere.
Anomalies that relate to 2010 excavations are discussed for each excavation area in the section
below.
The southwest to northeast trending lines of alternating high and low nanotesla values
represent plow scars. This plowing orientation is visible in aerial photographs of the site dating
to the 1940s. The alternating high and low nanotesla values along these lines represent parallel
rows of highly magnetic topsoil being mixed with less magnetic subsoil. In the northwest corner
of the site a southwest to northeast trending line of alternating very high and very low nanotesla
14
value anomalies (marked #1 in Figure 6) represents a buried metal pipeline, from which
numerous magnetic dipoles are formed at the intersections of segments. Before excavations
began, Illinois' JULIE, Inc. (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) was notified to
flag buried utilities within the entire field, but none were flagged. This buried pipeline may
therefore represent an older, forgotten line, perhaps associated with a historic house that once
stood within the field.
15
Test Units and Features
Excavation methods followed those of Zimmerman Holt and Belknap (2010). In general,
2 x 2 m units were excavated as a block through the plow zone, and in 10 cm deep, 1 x 1 m
quarters below the plow zone. Features were generally bisected, one half excavated, and a
profile drawn before the second half was excavated. A minimum of 10 L flotation sample was
collected from each feature. Test unit and feature naming conventions were continued from the
2009 season, with the exception that 100 was added to feature numbers, thus the last feature
numbered in 2009 was Feature 9, and the first numbered feature in 2010 was 110. Test Units J,
K, L, and M were initially located on an east-to-west line across a rise in the field, near the
densest accumulation of surface finds, prior to the magnetic gradiometry survey. Subsequent test
units were placed to test specific anomalies from the magnetic gradiometry survey. Test unit and
feature summaries are presented in Tables 2 and 3. Overall site layout and the locations of test
units and features are shown in Figures 7 and 8. Discussions below focus on specific excavation
areas (individual test units or test unit blocks and their associated features).
Table 2 Test unit summaries.
Test Unit
SW Grid N
SW Grid E
Size (m)
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
498
498
498
498
507
517
517
505
484
482
507
484
494
473
522
532
500
497
493
480
502
501
498
504
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
2x2
1x2
Possible Post Molds
Numerous 5 – 10 cm diameter dark, circular stains were encountered and treated as
"possible post molds". Most of these originated at or shortly below the plow zone, and extended
a few centimeters to more than 20 cm deep. These were assigned a feature number and bisected
without flotation sampling. Some of these were later determined to be krotovina (old root traces
or rodent holes filled with darker soil). A few were determined to be clear post molds. Most,
however, remain ambiguous – they are either krotovina or post holes, some of which may have
been truncated by the plow zone. Only two of these features are discussed in this report, as
representative examples. As excavations continue in subsequent years and a greater area is
exposed through excavation, patterns in these features may emerge to indicate whether they are
natural or cultural.
16
Table 3. Feature summaries.
Feature
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
Test
Unit
L
M
J
J
J
J
J
J
L
J
J
L
L
L
L
L
L
J
J
J
J
J
M
M
M
M
M
M
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Feature
Modern trench
Pit
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Tap root
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Pit
Pit
Pit
Big post (?)
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
total
Site X Site Y depth
(E)
(N)
(cm)
522.3 499
12
532.4 498.7 62
494.78 499.6 3
495.09 499.7 18
494.95 498.69 3
495.62 498.55 18
494.29 498.3 2
495.35 499.18 20
522.45 499.55 4
495.6 499.4 10
495.8 499.88 8
522.5 499.5 3
522.65 499
4
523
499.75 4
523
499.15 2
523.5 499.78 10
523.75 499.4 1.5
495.89 498.1 7
495.9 499.2 22
494.6 499.64 8
495.65 499.63 13
494.6 498.24 1
532.2 498.1 3
533.78 498.4 2
533.3 498.32 3
533.75 498.25 3
533.4 499.95
533.95 499.5
480.9 505.55 75
480.65 506.35 30
481.95 505.11 5
481.79 505.25 6
481.8 505.5 5
481.35 506.4 10
481.8 505.85 5
481.5 505.89 6
481.15 506.08 5
481.14 506.15 6
480.25 506.02 4
480.18 506.02 6
480.38 505.9 5
480.15 505.9 9
Diameter (cm)
100
3
6
7
16
4
4
5.5
7
5
4.5
7
7
6
6
5.5
7
10
7
11
8
8
5
6
4
*
*
110
6
6
5
7
14
6
7
8
4
5
5
5
6
17
Table 3 continued.
Feature
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
160
161
162
163
Test
Unit
Q
J
J
R
R
R
R
S
N
N
N
Feature
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Possible post mold
Pit
Pit
House basin
Post mold
Pit
total
Site X Site Y depth
(E)
(N)
(cm)
480.3 505.1 5
495.65 499.52 8
495.75 498.9 10
502.3 485.9 6
502.55 485.9 6
503.45 484.35 10
504
503
61
502.5 483.6 50
500
507.4 18
501.4 507.75 22
501.2 508.79 5
Diameter (cm)
10
5
16
6
6
10
100
94
*
20
50
* = Only partially excavated; diameter unknown.
Figure 7. Contour map of northern site area with site grid. Red squares are test units. Contours
are 10 cm arbitrary intervals.
18
Figure 8. 2010 excavations showing test units (outlined in red), feature locations (in blue), and
site grid. Contours are 10 cm arbitrary intervals.
Test Unit J
Test Unit J was located near the highest portion of the site (Figure 8), and partially
excavated prior to the magnetic gradiometry survey. Numerous possible post molds were found
within this test unit (Figure 9), but no clear pattern is apparent. A bulk density column and soil
column were excavated from the eastern wall of this test unit (discussed in the geoarchaeology
section below). The east wall profile of this unit, representative of the unit as a whole, is shown
in Figure 10.
No other features were encountered in this test unit. Time-diagnostic artifacts recovered
include a blade, and both Woodland and Mississippian non-rim sherds. The majority of artifacts
were recovered in the plow zone and the first two 10-cm levels below the plow zone. This unit
was excavated to a maximum depth of 73 cm below ground surface. The soil profile exhibited in
this test unit is typical for the site, with potentially less erosion at this location because it is
higher in elevation and on less of a slope than the rest of the site. The dark color and high
organic content in the plow zone indicate that it incorporates a portion of an earlier pre-plowing
A horizon, but the clear transition to a lighter colored clay-rich Bt horizon indicates significant
erosion. Just how much erosion the site has experienced, and how the landform has changed, is
19
the subject of on-going research at this site. This issue is addressed in the geoarchaeology
section of this report below.
Figure 9. Test Unit J, location of bulk density and soil columns, and possible post molds.
Figure 10. Test Unit J, east wall.
Soil Description:
Ap: Dark Grayish Brown (10YR3/2) silty clay loam; weak medium to coarse blocky structure;
common fine roots and biopores; clear irregular boundary.
Bt: Brown (10YR4/4) silty clay loam, clay content increasing with depth; common fine roots and
biopores; clear discontinuous ped linings of 10YR4/2; boundary not observed.
20
Test Unit K
Test Unit K was the westernmost unit excavated in 2010. This unit was located and
excavations began prior to the magnetic gradiometer survey. No features and no formal
prehistoric artifacts were encountered in this unit. One glass button was recovered from below
the plow zone. Of the test units at the site, Test Unit K was lowest in elevation and located in an
area with the greatest apparent amount of erosion. Because of this, the eastern half of this test
unit was extended in order to expose the deepest stratigraphy. The western half of the unit was
excavated to a depth of 48 cm beneath ground surface, and the eastern half was excavated to a
depth of 130 cm beneath ground surface.
The stratigraphy of this unit (shown in Figures 11 and 12) reveals far more erosion than
Test Unit J. A lighter-colored plow zone with little organic content overlies a shallowly buried,
bedded deposit of medium to coarse sands. A soil core excavated in the floor of this unit, to the
maximum depth allowable by the field equipment (280 cm) recovered laminated sands the entire
depth. This massive sand deposit represents a likely late Pleistocene/early Holocene glacial
outwash terrace, discussed in more detail in the geoarchaeology section below.
Figure 11. Test Unit K, east wall profile.
21
Figure 12. Test Unit K, east wall.
Soil Description:
Ap: Dark yellowish brown (10YR4/3) silty clay loam; weak coarse to medium blocky structure;
common fine roots and biopores; clear, uneven boundary.
Ap2: Irregular mix of Ap and BA.
BA: Yellowish brown (10YR5/2) silty clay loam (less clay than above); moderate to medium
blocky structure; few fine roots and common fine biopores; common discontinuous ped
linings of 10YR4/3; few fine redox concentrations following biopores of 2.5YR4/6; clear
to gradual boundary.
BA2: Irregular mix of BA and BC.
BC: Dark yellowish brown (10YR4/4) silt loam; weak to medium blocky structure; few fine
roots and common fine biopores; common fine redox concentrations following biopores
of 2.5YR4/6; clear boundary.
CB: Yellowish brown (10YR5/6) silt loam (less clay than above); very weak to medium blocky
structure; few fine roots and common fine biopores; common fine redox concentrations
following biopores (2.5YR4/6); clear boundary.
22
C: As above with fine distinct laminations; primarily loamy silt; massive structure; few slightly
darker colored fine sand deposits; clear boundary.
C2: Primarily light reddish brown (2.5Y7/3) fine sand with many fine laminations of 10YR6/6
and slightly darker; massive structure; clear boundary.
2C3: Primarily very pale brown (10YR7/3) fine sand with common cross-bedded laminations of
10YR5/4; massive structure; abrupt boundary.
3C4: Primarily yellowish brown (10YR5/4) loamy sand with many fine cross-bedded
laminations of various colors; massive structure; abrupt boundary.
3C5: Primarily grayish brown amber (2.5Y6/4) fine sand with abundant very fine cross-bedded
laminations of 10YR5/6; massive structure; boundary not observed.
Test Unit L
Excavation of Test Unit L began prior to the magnetic gradiometer survey. A dark,
north-to-south trending feature was encountered immediately below the plow zone (Figure 13).
The sharply defined edges of this feature (Feature 110), as well as a cigarette butt within the fill,
indicate that this feature was a modern trench, likely created within the last few decades in order
to increase drainage from this portion of the farm field. Seven possible post molds were
excavated from this unit, but no other prehistoric features were encountered. One Middle
Woodland sherd (Identified by John Kelly) was recovered from near the base of this unit clearly
within a krotovina. This unit was excavated to a maximum depth of 65 cm beneath ground
surface.
Figure 13. Test Unit L, base of level 1, facing north. Feature 110 is a historic trench in the
western half of the unit, oriented north to south.
23
Test Unit M
Test Unit M is the easternmost unit of the 2010 excavations, located and partially
excavated before the magnetic gradiometry survey. This unit was located near a dense
concentration of flakes and sherds at the surface, which indicated a potential feature that was
recently disturbed by plowing. Feature 111 (Figure 14) was encountered immediately below the
plow zone, and is the likely source of these surface artifacts. Plow scars at the top of Feature 111
extended to the west and east, and the plow had clearly dragged dark feature fill and artifacts in
these directions. Figure 14 shows the layout of Test Unit M, and the features found within it.
Features 132, 133, 134, and 135 were possible post molds. Features 136 and 137 were
encountered immediately below the plow zone. Because these extend only partially into the test
unit it is currently unclear of their full extent. These may be pit features that extend only
partially into Test Unit M, or they may be deeper plow scars that dragged artifacts from another
feature. The portions of these features within Test Unit M were excavated as features, although
no diagnostic artifacts were recovered from them. The bulk of these features may lie outside of
the test unit. Profiles of these features are shown in Figures 16 and 17. These will be exposed
and excavated during subsequent field school excavations.
Figure 14. Test Unit M and associated features.
Feature 111 at first appeared to extend well beyond the western wall of the test unit, so
the line of bisection for this feature was set at the western wall of Test Unit M. Excavation of
the feature showed that the feature was primarily within the test unit. Therefore, the northern
portion of the feature was also left as a straight wall for profiling. Figure 15 shows the feature
partially excavated, with artifacts left on pedestals, and the western and northern portions left for
profiling. Flotation samples were taken from both of these sections. The small portion of
Feature 111 that extended west of the test unit was excavated from the wall. The majority of
24
Test Unit M was excavated to a depth of 40 cm beneath ground surface. A small window was
excavated in the western wall to better define the edges of Feature 111.
Figure 15. Test Unit M, Feature 111 profile, facing north. The pit has been partially excavated
with unexcavated portions remaining in the west wall and north 1/2 of test unit M. Diagnostic
artifacts are left on pedestals.
Figure 16. Test Unit M, north wall, and Feature 136. See Figure 17 for soil descriptions.
25
Figure 17. Test Unit M, east wall, and Feature 137. See Figure 17 for soil descriptions.
Figure 18. Test Unit M, west wall, and Feature 111.
Soil Description:
Ap: Very dark grayish brown (10YR3/2) silty loam; very weak coarse blocky structure; common
fine roots and biopores; clear irregular boundary.
Bt: Dark yellowish brown (10YR4/3.5) silty clay loam; moderate medium angular blocky
structure; common fine roots and biopores; gradual boundary.
Bt2: Predominantly brown (10YR4/3) silty clay loam; weak angular blocky structure; common
discontinuous ped linings of 10YR3/2; common fine roots and biopores; boundary not
observed. Ped linings may be more pronounced in this location because the sample is
immediately below an organic rich feature.
Feature 111 Zone 1: Very dark grayish brown (10YR3/2) silty clay loam; weak fine angular
blocky structure; gradual boundary.
26
Feature 111 Zone 2: As above but slightly lighter in color.
Feature 136: Dark brown (10YR3/3) clay loam; weak coarse blocky structure; clear boundary.
Feature 137: Dark brown (10YR3/3) clay loam; weak coarse blocky structure; clear boundary.
Feature 111 contained two distinct zones, with an upper, darker zone that contained the
majority of artifacts, and a slightly lighter, more homogenous lower zone (Figure 18). The lower
zone may represent leaching of organic-rich material into non-feature soil, or an initial filling
episode of the feature that contained few artifacts, or a combination of both from slumping
before the feature was completely filled.
Artifacts recovered from Feature 111 include a small (ca. 5 cm long) chert adze or
scraper, one piece of hematite (not modified in any identifiable way), and 23 sherds that included
a mix of Marion Thick and Havana types (identified by John Kelly). Artifacts recovered from
the plow zone of Test Unit M, and likely associated with Feature 111, include a scraper, a blade
fragment, two biface fragments, and a very small (ca. 1.5 cm long) arrow point. Charcoal and
burned earth were common in the upper zone of the feature, and several samples from good
context (near the center of the feature, away from any visible krotovina) were recovered for
possible dating.
Test Units O and P
Test Units O and P were placed to investigate two anomalies within the magnetic
gradiometer survey (Figure 19). Each of these anomalies is a dipole, consisting of a couplet of
high and low magnetic values. These can indicate historic metal, with a magnetic field strong
enough to create a dipole similar to a magnet with a north and south pole. Weak dipole
anomalies can also be created by prehistoric fire hearths that are heated to a high temperature,
and are not greatly disturbed after use. In the case of both Test Units O and P, the anomalies
were created by historic pieces of metal.
Figure 20 is a profile of the north wall of Test Unit P, which is nearly identical to the
profile or Test Unit O. Three distinct zones of soil mixing were visible, to a depth of 44 cm
beneath the ground surface – far deeper than any other plow zone identified at the site so far.
Beneath the plow zone was a natural BA soil horizon. Tractor-tire marks were visible at the base
of AP3 (Figure 21). It is possible that this disturbance is from Sid Denny's 1970s excavations at
the site, during which several large areas were exposed with heavy equipment (See Holt and
Belknap 2010). It is also possible that one or more historic structures at the site were removed
and covered with the aid of a tractor in order to clear a portion of the field for plowing.
Mixed historic and prehistoric artifacts were found throughout test Units O and P,
including a Hardin Barbed point. A metal harrow tine was found in Test Unit P, clearly the
source of the dipole anomaly in that unit. Several small-to-medium pieces of rusted metal were
recovered from Test Unit O. Given the highly disturbed nature of these deposits, all artifacts
recovered from these units should be considered to have general site provenience only. It is
27
possible that intact prehistoric features or artifacts are left below this zone of disturbance, but
time precluded deeper excavations in these locations in 2010.
Figure 19. Magnetic gradiometry survey showing the locations of Test Units O and P in relation
to weak dipole anomalies.
Figure 20. Test Unit P, north wall.
Soil Description:
Ap: Dark brown (10YR3/3) silty clay loam; cloddy and weak blocky structure; clear boundary.
Ap2: Very dark grayish brown (10YR3/2) silty clay loam; weak medium blocky structure; clear boundary.
Ap3: Very dark grayish brown (10YR3/2.5) silty clay loam; weak medium blocky structure;
clear boundary. Clear tractor tire marks at the base of Ap3.
BA: Very dark gray (10YR3/1) silty clay loam; moderate fine to medium angular blocky structure;
boundary not observed.
28
Figure 21. Test Unit P, base of level 3, facing north. Tractor tire marks are visible as dark bands
running Southwest to northeast.
Test Unit Q
Test Unit Q was located to test a strong, well-defined magnetic anomaly (Figure 22).
Immediately below the plow zone two dark, well-defined features were observed (Figure 23).
The larger of the two was designated Feature 138 and is clearly the source of the magnetic
anomaly. The smaller feature was designated 139. This may be too small to generate a welldefined magnetic anomaly, or its magnetic field may be overwhelmed by that of the larger
feature. Twelve possible post molds were also observed in this test unit. The locations of all
features within Test Unit Q are shown in Figure 24.
The possible post molds were excavated first, followed by Features 138 and 139. Each of
these was bisected and profiled, discussed separately below. Mixed historic and prehistoric
artifacts were recovered from the plow zone, including a hoe flake and large (ca. 12 cm
diameter) piece of stumpware. The stumpware was recovered in the plow scar immediately
above Feature 139 and is most likely associated directly with this feature.
29
Figure 22. Test Unit Q in relation to the magnetic anomaly it was designed to test.
Figure 23. Test Unit Q and Features 138 and 139 at the base of the plow zone, facing east. Note
prominent plow scars running the full length of the test unit.
30
Figure 24. Test Unit Q features and location of bulk density column.
Two possible post molds from this test unit (Features 140 and 141) are pictured in Figure
25 as representative of this type of feature throughout the site. These are small circular stains
both originating immediately below the plow zone and each ending 5 to 6 cm below the plow
zone with a gentle taper or flat base. When such features "turned an angle" at depth or included
lateral extensions, they were interpreted as burrows. Mapping of these features after more
extensive excavations may reveal patterns that suggest either cultural or natural origin for them.
Figure 25. Test Unit Q, base of level 1, facing east. Features 140 and 141, possible post molds
31
Feature 139 (profile shown in Figure 26) was a shallow, square dark feature extending 6
cm below the plow zone. The edges and base of this feature were clear, and a lower zone was
highly gleyed. No artifacts were recovered from this feature. This is tentatively interpreted as
the base of a large post hole or other feature possibly associated with Feature 138. This feature
was likely truncated by plowing. Excavation of the anomaly immediately west of Feature 138
(Figure 21) may illuminate the nature of this feature if a similar structure is found in association
with the likely Mississippian pit represented by this anomaly.
Figure 26. Feature 139 profile, facing south. Zone 1: Very dark brown (10YR2/2); Zone 2:
Dark greenish gray (10Y4/1)
Feature 138 was a bell-shaped Mississippian pit, extending 75 cm beneath the plow zone.
It had been at least partially truncated by the plow zone, as evidenced by stumpware and other
large artifacts dragged by the plow along the top. This feature was bisected in the middle along
the east-to-west axis and the east half excavated first. A small portion of the belled bottom of the
feature extended beyond the south wall. Figures 27 and 28 show the profile of the bisected
feature, and its extension into the southern wall of Test Unit Q.
No distinct zones of fill were noted. The feature contained abundant charcoal and ash
throughout, as well as burned earth and fire cracked rock. Artifacts recovered from this feature
include two hoe flakes, and abundant flakes and sherds, including the following types identified
by John Kelly: Madison County Shale Bluff Jar, grog tempered notched rim Edelhardt, Emergent
Mississippian shell tempered, Powel Plain burnished, Monk's Mound Red, and mixed grit and
grog tempered Emergent Mississippian.
A "companion" magnetic anomaly, virtually identical to the Feature 138 anomaly in size,
shape, and nanotesla value, lies immediately to the west. This will be excavated in subsequent
years to test for its similarity and difference to Feature 138.
32
Figure 27. Feature 138 profile, facing west.
Figure 28. Test Unit Q, south wall.
Soil Descriptions:
Ap: Dark grayish brown (10YR4/2) silty clay loam; weak coarse blocky structure; clear
boundary.
33
BA: Brown (10YR4/3) clay loam; strong fine angular blocky structure; common fine roots and
biopores; weak discontinuous cutans slightly darker than matrix; clear boundary.
B: Dark yellowish brown (10YR4/4) clay loam; moderate fine angular blocky structure; common
fine roots and biopores; discontinuous cutans slightly darker than matrix; gradual
boundary.
B2: Brown (10YR3.5/4) silty clay loam; few fine roots and common fine biopores; clear
boundary.
B3: As above with discontinuous cutans of 10YR4/2.
B4: Brown (10YR5/3) silt loam; weak medium blocky structure; few fine roots and common fine
biopores; few redox concentrations of 5YR5/6; clear boundary.
BC: Yellowish brown (10YR5/4) silty clay loam; very weak coarse blocky structure; common
diffuse redox concentrations of 7.5YR5/4; common redox concentrations following
biopores of 7.5Y5/6; boundary not observed.
Test Units R, S, and U
Test Units R and S were located to test two clear anomalies in the magnetic gradiometry
data (Figures 29 and 30). Both anomalies were Middle Woodland period pits that appeared as
dark, circular stains immediately below the plow zone. Because feature 158 within Test Unit R
extended east of the test unit, another 1 x 2 meter unit (designated Test Unit U) was emplaced to
expose the rest of the feature. Test Unit R contained three possible post molds. The pit features
within these units are discussed below.
Figure 29. Test units R, S, and U in relation to magnetic anomalies.
34
Figure 30. Test Units R, S, and U, and associated features.
Feature 158 was a circular, straight-sided basin within Test Units R and U. The western
half of this feature was excavated within Test Unit R, and the eastern half was excavated after a
profile was drawn (Figure 31). A blade fragment and grog tempered Naples Stamped sherd were
recovered from just below the plow zone near this feature, and may have come from this feature.
Charcoal was common throughout the feature, and several samples were recovered for potential
dating. Two blades, a grog tempered Naples Stamped sherd, and a Hopewell Zoned Stamped
sherd were recovered from within the feature itself. No distinct zones of fill were identified from
this feature.
An interesting aspect of this feature are several weakly developed (but visually clear) Bthorizon clay lamellae. Such lamellae form as clay and are translocated downward within a soil
profile in coherent, distinct thin laminations. These most commonly occur in sandy soil,
although the soil within this feature and the surrounding matrix are not dominated by sand. The
timing of the formation of these features is poorly understood, and dating the formation of clay
lamellae from this and other features at the site may aid in this topic of soils research.
35
Figure 31. Test Unit R east wall and Feature 158.
Soil Descriptions:
Ap: Brown (10YR4/3) silt loam; cloddy structure; clear boundary.
BA: Yellowish brown (10YR5/6) silty clay loam; moderate medium angular blocky structure;
common distinct ped linings of 10YR4/3; common fine roots and biopores; clear
boundary.
Feature 158: Mixed dark yellowish brown (10YR4/4) and grayish brown (10YR5/2) silty clay
loam; moderate medium blocky structure; few fine roots and biopores.
Feature 160 (Figures 32 and 33) was similar to Feature 158: a round, straight-sided basin
with organic- and artifact-rich fill. Charcoal was found throughout the feature and sampled. A
blade, as well as grog tempered cord marked sherds identified by John Kelly as Emergent
Mississippian, and one shell-tempered red-slipped Mississippian sherd were found within this
feature. Fragments of a burnt mud dauber wasp nest were also found within this feature,
indicating the likely presence of a structure, although the preservation was too poor to identify
the nature of the structure on which it had been built. Several distinct zones of feature fill were
identified (Figure 33), although no consistent differences in artifact type was noted between
them.
36
Figure 32. Feature 160 profile in Test Unit S, facing north.
Figure 33. Feature 160, facing north.
Soil Descriptions:
B: Dark grayish brown (10YR4/4) silty clay loam; moderate medium angular blocky structure; clear
boundary.
37
Bt: (clay lamellae) Dark yellowish brown (10YR4/6) silty clay loam; moderate medium angular blocky
structure; clear boundary.
CB: Light yellowish brown (10YR6/4) silt loam; very weak medium angular blocky structure; boundary
observed.
Feature Zone 1: Dark brown (10YR3/3) silty clay loam.
Feature Zone 2: Approx. 60% dark yellowish brown (10YR4/4) with 40% dark brown (10YR3/3) silty clay
loam.
Feature Zone 3: Approx. 40% dark yellowish brown (10YR4/4) with 60% dark brown (10YR3/3) silty clay
loam.
Feature Zone 4: Very dark grayish brown (10YR3/2) silty clay loam; charcoal more abundant than in rest
of feature.
Test Units N and T
Test Unit N was located in order to test a specific magnetic anomaly (Figure 34). Below
the plow zone a large, dark soil discoloration with abundant charcoal flecking was given the
feature designation 161, and a large fragment of charcoal (ca. 12 cm diameter) and burnt
limestone (Figure 35), was assigned feature number 162. Beneath the charcoal and burnt
limestone of Feature 162 was a clear, round post hole 20 cm in diameter that extended 26 cm
down. Feature 161 was a shallow basin extending laterally from Feature 162 to the south and
southwest (Figure 36). These are interpreted as a house (Feature 161), and associated corner
post with limestone chinking (Feature 162). Feature 163 (Figure 37) was a dark stain with
common charcoal flecking that was only 1-2 cm in depth. No artifacts were found within this
feature. This may be a slightly deeper portion of the plow zone, or a charcoal pile or other
feature associated with Features 161 and/or 162.
Figure 34. Test Units N and T and associated magnetic anomalies.
38
Figure 35. Top of Feature 162 (house corner post) in Test Unit N, facing east, showing charred
post fragment and burnt limestone chinking.
Figure 36. Feature 162 (house corner post) partially excavated showing profile and circular stain
at depth.
39
Figure 37. Test Units N, T, and associated features.
The house basin (Feature 161) was excavated within Test Unit N, and the profiles drawn
on the south and west walls of this test unit. Test Unit T was later added to expose more of the
house basin, and the southern profile drawn (see Figure 37 through 40). One sherd of grit
tempered Marion Thick pottery was found mixed within the burnt limestone at the top of the
corner post (Feature 162). A complete Cobden-Dongola stone hoe was found lying flat at the
bottom of the house basin straddling the line between Test Units T and N. The hoe measures 23
cm long and has strong polishing along the working edge. One side of the hoe was broken,
although it appears to be still usable or easily knapped back into working shape. No easily timediagnostic ceramics were found from within the house basin itself.
Figure 38. Feature 161 (house basin) excavated in test units N and T, facing southwest.
40
Figure 39. Test Unit N, west wall and Feature 161.
Soil Descriptions:
Ap: Brown (10YR4/3) with 5% 10YR5/2 silty clay loam; cloddy structure; clear boundary.
Ap2: Very dark grayish brown (10YR3/2) silty clay loam; very weak medium angular blocky
structure; clear boundary.
A: Very dark grayish brown (10YR3/2) silty clay loam; moderate medium angular blocky
structure; common fine roots and biopores; faint ped linings slightly darker than matrix;
common small mottles of 10YR5/3. This horizon extends throughout the test unit and
appears to be a mix of natural A horizon material and midden associated with the house.
BA: Brown (10YR4/3) clay loam; strong medium to coarse blocky structure; continuous cutans
slightly darker than matrix; common fine roots and biopores; boundary not observed.
Figure 40. Test Unit T south wall. (See above for soil descriptions.)
41
The magnetic anomaly that Test Unit N was originally located to expose was
undoubtedly the house corner post. Three other similar magnetic anomalies (Figure 41) may be
the other three corner posts, considering their arrangement, and their similar size, shape, and
nanotesla value. A larger magnetic anomaly located between these four may be a central post or
other pit feature within the house. Subsequent excavations will expose these areas.
Figure 41. Magnetic anomalies that may be associated with the corner post and house basin
(Features 161 and 162). Dashed white lines may be three more corner posts, solid white line
may be an internal post or pit feature.
42
Geoarchaeology of the Gehring Site
By Shannon Murphy
Abstract
The Gehring Site (11MS99) has a long history of change: 10,000 years of soil deposition
and erosion has altered the landform. During the last 10,000 years 200 cm of soil has been
deposited and several areas of the site have seen severe erosion. Soil cores and feature
locations have allowed for a partial reconstruction of the paleo-landscape during the last 10,000
years. Gehring is a multi-occupational site located on the SIUE campus with Archaic, Middle
Woodland, Mississippian, and Historic components. During the Middle Woodland the edges of
the site had already begun to erode. During the Emergent Mississippian the western portion of
the site was located at a level elevation. Reconstructing past landforms allows for a study in
how the inhabitants at the Gehring Site interacted with the landform.
Introduction
The Gehring site is located on the floodplain next to Cahokia Creek and a backwater lake
3.5 miles away. It is comprised of a sand bar that has been eroded by the meander of Cahokia
Creek. Currently the landform is being used to farm corn and horseradish and it was also used for
farming during the Middle Woodland and Emergent Mississippian periods. The excess crops
produced during the Emergent Mississippian times may have been taken to Cahokia to feed the
growing population. Fluvial, alluvial, and human interactions change the shape of a landform
altering its shape and morphological properties throughout time. Therefore, the modern landform
may not accurately represent ancient conditions.
By extracting soil samples across the Gehring site and analyzing the percent of sand, silt,
and clay each contains, a representation of the prehistoric landform can be created. The field of
geoarchaeology has begun to grow as archaeologists learn that it can help answer major
questions concerning human development and culture. Geoarchaeology is a multidisciplinary
approach to traditional archaeology that looks at soils on a site that may provide knowledge
about past occupation or buried soils that may present evidence for an archaeological site. Many
previously excavated sites are given a second look to see what contributions geoarchaeology can
give (Goldberg and Macphail 2006).
Geoarchaeological research in the American Bottom and in the lower Illinois River
Valley has made significant contributions to the understanding of archaeological sites and the
past landforms of this area. Vicari (2009) discusses how the study of fluvial systems can provide
information on the history of rivers. Large changes in the regime of a river can render the river
valley inhospitable for human occupation. Understanding archaeological sites in a river valley
requires an in-depth understanding of the river’s history. Geological samples have shown that
there are many different changes that affect the evolution and archaeological history of a
landscape. River migration and backwater lake disappearance are just two of the fluvial
alterations that can change the history of human occupation of an archaeological site. Fluvial
43
processes are joined by alluvial processes in the study of the archaeological record. Alluvial
processes play a large role in burying, mixing, altering, and destroying archaeological sites. It is
vital that these processes be understood to develop strategies for sampling for past human
activities and properly interpreting the archaeological record (Bettis et al 2008).
Geological survey of the Monks Mound Quadrangle (Grimley et al. 2007) revealed
several sediment deposits underlying the entire area. The earliest deposits date to 12,000-10,000
radiocarbon years before present. Most of the sediments are medium and course sands which
were laid down on top of bedrock and were deposited during floods. Silts and finer sands are
found closer to the surface and were deposited when flood waters started to recede.
The Monks Mound Quadrangle is located 5 to 10 miles east of St. Louis. The Grimley et
al. (2007) survey used soil surveys, field observations, soil cores, Illinois Department of
Transportation (IDOT) borings, and water well logs. The results show sediments which indicate
the presence of many glacial deposits in the uplands of the quadrangle. In the American Bottom
evidence of flooding and the Mississippi meandering across the central and western portions of
the valley has been recorded. The survey shows that at times the Mississippi River’s meander
was so great that it curved back onto itself abandoning its former path (Grimley et al. 2007). The
resulting crescent shaped lake, known as an oxbow lake, would fill with water every time the
Mississippi River flooded. By looking at the geomorphology of the soil around an oxbow lake
archaeologist have been able to learn that sites at or around the lake often postdate its formation
and can be buried in levee deposits or point bars (Goldberg and Macphil 2007).
Field Methods
Nine soil cores were extracted from the central part of the site (Figure 42). The cores
were taken across the site with a minimum of 20 meters between each, in two roughly linear,
perpendicular lines. These lines cross a relatively broad terrace close to Cahokia Creek that is the
highest point of elevation at the site. The cores were taken with a hand operated auger. Samples
at an interval of every 10 to 15 cm in depth were taken and recorded from the first core. The
subsequent cores were selectively sampled based on field observations of soil characteristics. For
each sample extracted the depth, Munsell color, and other soil properties were recorded. Soil
samples were placed in plastic bags left open to allow the soil to dry.
44
Figure 42. The location of the nine soil cores across the Gehring Site. Soil cores 1, 2, 3, and 4
are aligned east to west. Soil cores 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are aligned north to south.
Laboratory Methods
Each sample was taken to the Anthropology Lab located on the SIUE campus for particle
size analysis by the hydrometer method. Particle size analysis relies on the different settling
velocities of sediment particles of different sizes in a liquid solution (Timpson and Foss 1992).
The hydrometer reads different densities in a soil solution, as the heavier particles (sand) fall out
first and the lighter particles (silt or clay) remain in suspension for longer. Solution density
readings by a hydrometer are taken at predetermined intervals to determine how much of each
particle size is contained in the sample.
Before tests can be run, the soil samples must be disaggregated. To accomplish this each
sample is dried, ground, passed through a 2 mm screen to remove any pebbles, and combined
with a dispersant (sodium hexametaphosphate) to separate the particles. The samples are placed
in a mechanical shaker to further separate the particles. After 6 hours in the mechanical shaker
the samples are emptied into a 1000 ml beaker, distilled water is added to the 1000 ml marker to
complete the solution needed for particle size analysis tests to be performed. For the analysis,
readings are taken at the 40 sec, 5 min, 1 hr, and 6 hr intervals. Along with the readings taken
45
from the soil solutions, readings are recorded from a control solution which contains the
dispersant but no soil.
Once the hydrometer readings are completed the samples are poured through a wet sieve
to collect the sand particles. The sand is moved from the sieve to a piece of finger paint paper
and left to dry overnight. The sand is collected from the paper and the resulting weight was
recorded. The dried sand is then placed in a stack of sieves and shaken for ten minutes to
determine the amount of different sized sand particles. Each size grade is weighed and recorded.
Feature Maps
By mapping the features found at the Gehring Site comparisons can be drawn between
their locations on the landform and in relation to other features on the site. Once each feature’s
time period has been identified its location below the ground surface can be calculated and
recorded on a graph. Two graphs are used that show the feature’s locations and elevations in a
north to south direction and an east to west direction. The features are color coded to make
identification easier. Comparisons between features can give an estimate to the elevation and
general landform of the site during the time period the features date to.
Results
One of the nine cores will be described in detail as representative of the other cores. Core
1 was chosen because it is located in the center of the site and is represented on both the north to
south and east to west graphs. The samples provided a complete overview of the percent of
sediments which are contained in the entire core.
Core 1
Core 1, taken from the middle portion of the northern part of the Gehring site, was
extracted from the base of test unit J. The test unit extended 75 centimeters below ground surface
(cmbgs) at the time the core was taken. To complete the soil core, samples were extracted from
bulk density samples taken from the northern wall of the test unit. The excavation of test unit J
revealed the base of the Ap soil horizon extended to a depth of 25 cmbgs. The Bt horizon
extended past the base of the excavation unit.
A clay bulge (Figure 43) can be seen beginning in the Ap horizon and extending into the
Bt horizon, the clay bulge has a clay percentage of 27. Around 100 cmbgs the clay bulge
dissipates to around 5%, the rest of the core has very little clay in its composition. The clay
composition essentially disappears around 200 cmbgs. This is the depth where large laminations
of sand are first found. Due to the site’s location in the American Bottom and its proximity to
Cahokia Creek it is believed that the particles were deposited by fluvial systems. Mixed into the
layers of sand are smaller laminations of silt. The changes between sand and silt laminations
indicate that the rate of water movement that deposited the particles fluctuated. The top of the
layers of sand and silt mark the top of the C horizon.
46
Figure 43. The line on the right represents the percentage of clay found at different depths
in the soil. The farther to the left the line is the higher percentage of clay is at that depth. The line
on the right represents the sand percentages, the farther to the right the line is the greater the
percentage of sand found at that depth.
The sand found in core 1 makes up a little over 15% of the sample. The percentage of
sand decreases with depth until 110 cmbgs where there is a small spike in the amount of sand
found in two of the core samples. At 140 cmbgs the sand percents drop to 2% of the sample. The
sand percents rise quickly when a depth of 200 cmbgs is reached before quickly dropping back to
a little over 5%. At a depth of 220 cmbgs the sand percents climb to greater than 90% and
continue to remain high for the remainder of the core. There is one drop in sand percent at 278
cmbgs but climbs once again into 90% (Figure 43).
The sands that are found in the soils are made up of different size ranges. The sand sizes
are divided into very course, course, medium, fine, very fine, and less than very fine. Above 200
cmbgs the sand composition is made up of very fine sand grains. There is a spike in the very
course and course sand at 140 cmbgs. At 220 cmbgs the sand was comprised of 80% fine sand
with medium sand comprising a large percent of the remaining sand sample. From 220 cmbgs to
the end of the core, with the exception of a small percent of very course sand at 278 cmbgs, there
is no very course or course sand present in the remaining samples (Figure 43).
47
Figure 44. The different color lines represent the different sized sand particles. From left to
right: very coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and very fine. The farther to the right the lines are the
greater percent of that sized sand is found at that depth.
East to West
Four cores span the northern portion of the Gehring Site on an east to west alignment.
Core 1 is located at the highest elevation with core 3 100 cm lower on the east side and core 4 70
cm lower on the west side. Core 2 is located between cores 1 and 3 at an elevation 30 cm lower
than core 1. The four cores were graphed taking into account their approximate elevations on the
site.
Clay
Three of the four cores show clay bulges that end at 120 cm below the highest point of
the site. A clay bulge appears when clay particles are transported down through the soil where it
accumulates. A clay bulge is an indication of a Bt horizon, a horizon with abundant deposits of
clay, and indicates that this horizon is fairly old. The cores on the farthest east and west points of
the site have a partial clay bulge. The top of the clay bulge that would usually be seen is missing,
leaving the bottom portion, where the accumulation of clay starts to disappear. The core that
does not match the other three is core 2. Core 2 has a clay bulge that is at its greatest peak when
the other three clay bulges have already dissipated. Core 2’s clay bulge continues for another 20
48
cm deeper before dissipating. After the clay bulge dissipates there is no great accumulation of
clay in any of the cores.
Sand
In all four cores it can be seen that the percent of sand in the upper 100 cm is relatively
small. There are small spikes in sand from 120 cm to 140 cm in cores 1 and 2 that drop. A large
spike in sand percent is seen in all four cores at a depth from 180 cm to 220 cm. After the spike,
the percent of sand seen in all cores drastically drops. From this point there is much variation in
the sand contents of each core.
The western most core, core 4, has a large spike in sand that remains constant until the
core ends. Core 1’s sand content continues to fluctuate until the bottom of the core. Directly
below the main increase in sand, is a large spike in sand percent that remains constant for 50 cm
before dropping. 10 cm below the drop, the sand level once again rises and remains relatively
constant. In core 2, after the sand spike, the sand amount slowly rises over 90 cm. At a depth of
310 cm the percentage of sand is over 90% and stays high until the bottom of the core. Core 3,
located farthest to the east, has two more large spikes in sand. The first spike is located at a depth
of 170 cm and slowly dissipates over 30 cm where it once more climes and continues to remain
high until the end of the core is reached.
North to South
Six cores are located in a north to south alignment across the northern portion of the
Gehring Site. Four of the six cores are found on the main body of the site, the other two are
farther north. Core 1 is located on the highest part of the site with core 9 located to the south and
cores 5 through 8 located to its north. The land to the north of core 1 has a gradual slope where
the slope to the south of core 1 is more steep.
Clay
Unlike the cores located east to west there is no strait line that can be drawn connecting
the clay bulges that can be seen once the cores have been graphed. The accumulation of clay
seen in the cores appears to follow the landform they are located on. The cores north of core 1 all
have a clay bulge that is around ten centimeters lower than the core to its south. Core 9 is located
70 cm in elevation lower than core 1 with the top most portion of its clay bulge missing. All the
clay bulges are around 100 cm in depth and begin to increase with the first sample. After the clay
bulge disappears in all the cores there is very little clay to be seen.
Sand
Cores 5 and 6 are located on the center of the landform where little, if any, erosion has
occurred. These two cores have the most similar sand percentages compared to any of the other
49
cores. Each of the two cores starts with very little sand comprising the samples. They have a
spike in the sand compositions around the depth of 150 cm. After each spike in sand the percent
shrinks. At a depth of 230 cm a final large spike in sand appears. This spike brings the sand
percentage to over 90%.
Cores 1 and 9 share similarities with cores 5 and 6. Core 1 has a small spike in sand
percentages that is also seen in cores 5 and 6. While the three cores have similarities they also
have a few differences. Core 1 has a second small spike in the sand percentage before the large
spike in sand percentage that corresponds with cores 5 and 6. In core 9 there is a small spike in
sand that is 10 cm above the second spike in sand found in core 1. Like the other three cores, a
large percentage of sand is seen at a depth of 230 cm.
Cores 7 and 8 do not correlate well with the other four cores. Core 7 has a 90% rise in
sand, but it reaches its peak at 190 cm, stays constant for 20 cm, and then drops before any of the
other cores have reached their peaks. Core 8 has a similar rise in sand that begins at a depth of
270 cm, 50 cm below any of the other sand increases.
Features Map
Historic: One historic feature was located during the 2010 SIUE field school. It was
located in Test Unit L, and was determined to be a drainage ditch that might have been made
more recently. The drainage ditch was located 30 cm below the surface of the ground and
extended 10 cm deeper into the soil. The base of the plow zone touches the top section of the
feature.
Emergent Mississippian: Five features were excavated that were believed to have been
created during the Emergent Mississippian time period. Two of the features (161 and 138) were
confirmed to be Emergent Mississippian. The remaining three are theorized to be from the same
time period due to their proximity to the larger features. Features 138 and 139 were located 35
cm below the ground surface. Features 161, 162, and 163 were located 45 cm below the ground
surface. Due to the difference in the surface elevation, when graphed the top of the five features
are at the same elevation.
Middle Woodland: Five features were found that date to the Middle Woodland. Features
158 and 160 were located at the southern end of the landform at an elevation of 30 cm beneath
ground surface. While both features were located in close proximity to each other they were also
located in an area of the site with the greatest slope. This led to feature 158 starting 10 cm above
feature 160. Features 111, 136, and 137 were located on the eastern portion of the site at a depth
of 30 cm. Only feature 111 was confirmed to be from the Middle Woodland time period but due
to the proximity of features 136 and 137 to feature 111 it is believed that they would have also
been from the same time period.
Feature Location: Looking at the features mapped on a west to east axis it is possible to
see that the Emergent Mississippian features are located in the western section of the site. In
comparison, the Middle Woodland features are located on the eastern section of the site. When
the features are mapped on a North to South axis the Middle Woodland features are found in the
50
southern portion of the site that has the steepest slopes. The Emergent Mississippian features are
located north of the Middle Woodland features on ground with less slope.
Plow Zone: The plow zone seen on the west to east axis shows that all but the historic
feature is untouched by the plow. There is evidence on the eastern edge of the site which
suggests that the plow might eventually start to disturb features in that location. The plow could
also miss the features entirely.
Interpretation
There is more than one way sand could have been deposited at the Gehring Site by fluvial
systems. Rivers are well known for changing their paths. A river such as the Mississippi can start
out as a braided river with smaller channels split of from the main branch and change into a
meandering stream (Grimley and Lepley 2005). As the water eroded sediments from the outer
bank of the meandering river it is depositing sediments on the inner bank of the meander. The
Mississippi river would have meandered several times across the American Bottom depositing
sand and silt layers (Goldberg and Macphail 2006).
A river flooding its banks can cause large changes to the land. As a river floods its banks
it deposits sediments that it has entrained in its flow. The Hjulström Diagram (Keylock 2004)
demonstrates that the faster the water is flowing the larger the particles it can carry. As the water
in the river slows, the larger (sand) particles are the first to be deposited leaving the smaller (silt
and clay) particles entrained in the rivers flow. The smaller particles are carried until the water
slows to a state that it no longer has the momentum to keep particles entrained. Flood plains are
widespread and the most common fluvial system. They also provide an excellent location to look
for archaeological sites. Floods can deposit meters of alluvium over a landform. The waters that
would deposit the silts and clays are calm slow moving waters that would leave sites intact. This
offers a great chance to view sites in situ (Goldberg and Macphail 2006).
The large floods that went through the American Bottom occurred during the Glaciations
ten thousand years ago, before humans moved into the area. The large flood episodes provided
information on how the site could have appeared before the large glacial outwash (Grimley and
Lepley 2005).
The west to east sand profiles shows there are large accumulations in sands that begin at a
slightly higher elevation in the west and gently slope to the east. This could be indicative of a
natural levee created from floods that were a common occurrence in the area. The flood that
deposited the sediments was most likely from a branch of the Mississippi, when it was still a
braided river. The large floods on the Mississippi happened early in the evolution of humans and
are located deep in the soil (Grimley et al. 2007). (Figure 45).
51
Figure 45. Profile of west to east cores. The vertical measurements are an arbitrary 20 cm.
Horizontal measurements are at 50 m intervals and recorded as site coordinates. The light gray
line shows the top of the sand packages. Each vertical line represents a single soil core. The
farther to the right of each line the higher percentage of sand at that depth.
The north to south profile shows that most of the landform was relatively flat when the
floods deposited their sediments. The north end of the site shows an irregularity when compared
to the rest of the site. The sediment accumulation in the northern most core is 50 cm deeper than
the sediment accumulations in the southern cores. This suggests that the main area of the site was
relatively flat at the time the sediments were deposited while the northern portion of the site
sloped down in elevation. (Figure 46).
52
Figure 46. Profile of north to south cores. The vertical measurements are an arbitrary 20 cm.
Horizontal measurements are at 50 m intervals and recorded as site coordinates. The light gray
line shows the top of the sand packages. The dotted line represents an inferred elevation prior to
modern erosion. The dotted line and question mark show a possible level for the landform. Each
vertical line represents one sand core.
Graphing the change in sediments shows the change in landscape during the early
Holocene. To learn more about the change in landscape during the times when the Gehring Site
was occupied the locations of the features from those time periods must be studied. Two graphs
were created that show the location of the different features in relation to the ground surface.
There are three occupations at the Gehring site identified during the 2010 SIUE field school. The
Middle Woodland occupation dates to 100 B.C., Emergent Mississippian occupation dates to
A.D. 1000, and the Historic occupation dates to A.D. 1700 (Fortier et al. 2006).
The Middle Woodland features identified are located in the southern and eastern portions
of the site. There is no uniform depth for the Middle Woodland features. The features found in
the southern area of the site are 40 cm higher in elevation than the features in the eastern section
of the site. The southern features show that the Gehring Site had already begun to erode during
the Middle Woodland occupation. While the two features (158 and 160) were located less than 2
meters apart there was a 10 cm difference in elevation. The three features found in the east (111,
136, and 137) were close enough together that they all had the same elevation, leaving the rate of
slope unknown. (Figures 7 and 8).
The Emergent Mississippian features are located in the northern and western portions of
the site. The features (138, 139, 161, 162, and 163) are also located at the same elevation but not
the same depth below the grounds surface (Fig 3). Since the features are at the same elevation it
53
suggests that the ground surface in the western portion of the site was located at a level elevation
during the Emergent Mississippian. The feature location can show what the ground surface
looked like on the highest most level area of the site, but it can show nothing about what the
edges of the site looked like. At this time there is no way to know if the site had the same slope
as the Middle Woodland occupation, or if it had enough soils and sediment deposited to make it
one large flat surface.
To determine the change in landscape during historical occupation aerial photos and
clay accumulations are looked at. The clay accumulation is the second piece of information
gained from the process of particle size analysis. As time passes clay is leached from the soil and
is translocated deeper into the soil profile. Clay accumulation is seen as a clay bulge when
graphed. It is impossible to determine how long it took for the clay to accumulate, but the depth
of the clay bulges from across a site can be compared to determine what the landform looked like
when the clay bulges were being formed (French 2003).
Figure 47. Features plotted by depth, north to south. The vertical measurements are an arbitrary
20 cm. Horizontal measurements are at 50m intervals and recorded as site coordinates. The light
gray line shows the top of the sand packages. The dotted line on left represents an unknown
distance. The dotted line on right and question mark show a possible level for the landform.
54
Figure 48. Features plotted by depth, east to west. The vertical measurements are an arbitrary 20
cm. Horizontal measurements are at 50m intervals and recorded as site coordinates. The light
gray line shows the top of the sand packages. Features 138 and 139 are located 6 meters behind
the profile line.
When the clay percents from across the site are compared it is seen that almost all of
them possess a clay bulge that is located at a similar depth below the ground surface. There are
areas in the eastern, western, and southern edges of the site where the top of the clay bulges are
missing, indicating that a large amount of erosion has occurred. Taking into consideration the
erosion at the edges of the site, the topography of the landform as the clay bulges were being
formed was very similar to the topography of the site today (Figures 9 and 10).
55
Figure 49. The vertical measurements are an arbitrary 20 cm. Horizontal measurements are at
50m intervals and recorded as site coordinates. The light gray line shows the largest
accumulation of clay. The dotted black line represents an unknown distance. The dotted black
line and question mark show a possible level for the landform. The dotted grey line shows the
possible depth for the clay bulge before modern erosion. Each vertical line represents one soil
core. The farther to the left the line is the greater percentage of clay.
56
Figure 50. The vertical measurements are an arbitrary 20 cm. Horizontal measurements are at
50m intervals and recorded as site coordinates. The light gray line shows the largest
accumulation of clay. Each vertical line represents one soil core. The farther to the left the line is
the larger the percent of clay at that elevation.
Aerial Photos are a second tool to consult when trying to determine the evolution of a
landform during Historic occupation. To determine the most modern change to a landform aerial
photos can provide a decade by decade view of change. Aerial photos can also be used to
determine the change in a rivers path or view the meander scares left by the river as its channel
shifted. The number of archaeologist turning to aerial photos has risen as they learn the benefits
of knowing where a possible site is located or how a landform has changed (Avery 1977).
The aerial photos taken of the Gehring Site show the landform’s change in the last 70
years. By outlining the boundaries of the site in the picture from each year it is possible to see the
extent of erosion on the landform. The western portion of the site shows the most change. A
small drainage ditch has formed in the last 70 years that has eroded a sizable portion of the site.
The boundaries all around the site show similar erosion that has decreased the size of the
Gehring Site to what is seen today (Figure 11).
57
Figure 51. The outline of the landform of the Gehring site in 1941 is outlined in purple. The
approximate location of Cahokia Creek from this time is also represented in purple. The outline
of the Gehring Site and the course of Cahokia Creek in 2010 are represented in blue. The two
outlines were superimposed to offer a view of the change due to weathering.
58
Conclusions
Several forms of information were gathered to learn how the Gehring Site evolved in the
last 10,000 years. Particle size analysis was employed to gather information on the sand layers
left by the flooding of the Mississippi during the early Holocene. This process determined that
the ground surface was roughly 200 cm lower than the modern ground level and was a large flat
surface.
Eight thousand years of over bank deposits from the Mississippi River or Cahokia Creek
raised the ground surface by 140 cm. The Middle Woodland features found at the site give clues
to the slope of the site. On the southern end of the site features 158 and 160 show the slop in that
area is steep. The two features are less than two meters apart and have a 10 cm difference in
elevation. The features found at the eastern end of the site are 40 cm lower in elevation than the
features found in the southern end. This also represents the erosion the site was just starting to be
subjected to. The rate of erosion on the eastern edge is unclear but it can be seen that the erosion
is less severe.
Add another 1000 years of time and 10 cm of over bank deposits, the Emergent
Mississippian brings new changes to the landform. It is unclear the exact extent of the change to
the landscape. The features that could possibly be used to map the amount of erosion are located
on a wide flat area of the site. Their location offers no clues to the change of the landscape other
than during the Emergent Mississippian there was a wide flat area of land that can still be seen
today.
Once the historic period is reached the two ways to determine the change in the landform
is through graphing the clay bulges recorded during particle size analysis and studying aerial
photos of the Gehring Site. The clay bulges appear as the soil weathers for a period of time
transporting clay particles down through the soil. Most of the clay bulges are the same length and
distance from the surface. This suggests that at the time of their formation the landform was
shaped similar to the landform seen today. Several of the clay bulges, located on the edges of the
site, show only a partial clay bulge. The partial clay bulges are due to recent erosion on the site.
To see the modern changes to the Gehring Site aerial photos from different years must be
compared. By using a photo of the site taken in 1940 and comparing it to a photo taken in 2010,
changes from erosion can be seen. Change in the over all shape of the site can be easily seen.
The western section of the site is where the most change due to erosion can be seen. This is due
to a drainage ditch that has recently appeared in the western area of the site.
The Gehring Site will continue to change as time passes. By studying the change in the
landform geoarchaeologists can gain a better understanding of how fluvial and anthropogenic
processes affect the land. If the landform’s change is understood then the changes in human
occupation over time will be better understood.
59
Paleoethnobotany at the Gehring Site
by Johanna Guthrie
Abstract
Underneath the developed highways and suburban sprawl of the St. Louis metro east, the
American Bottom (the Mississippi River floodplain) contains a wealth of archaeological
information. This area was home to a thriving population of Native Americans for thousands of
years and, at one point, to the largest city north of Mexico. These Native Americans
domesticated several native plant species, and also adopted maize agriculture. The evolution of
plant species and the emergence of agriculture is a topic of great interest and study among both
ecologists and archaeologists, particularly in the American Bottom and surrounding areas, given
that it is a center for independent invention of agriculture. The continued excavation of the
Gehring archaeological site (11MS99), located on the SIUE campus, allows for recovery of plant
remains left during important cultural time periods of the Native Americans who once occupied
the area. The goal of this study is to use the plant remains recovered to reconstruct the plant
usage of the individuals who occupied the Gehring site. This has given insight into the
ecological evolution of the local environment and cultural evolution of subsistence practices of
the humans who inhabited it. This study has shown that there were populations of individuals
cultivating the Gehring site as early as 800 B.C. and continuing cultivation and environmental
manipulation at least through A.D. 1050.
Introduction
There have been oscillations of Native American populations occupying the major river
valleys of this country – Duck Valley, Little Tennessee River Valley, Illinois River Valley, and
Central Mississippi Valley – from 3000 B.C. through A.D. 1400 (Johannessen 1988; Smith
1992). During this time cultures flourished, including the emergence of the Cahokian metropolis
which has been called the “largest city north of Mexico” (Hall 1980: 402).
Throughout this 4400 year period there were several expressions of cultural complexity.
Robert Hall refers to cultural climax as “a focus of cultural intensity within a culture area” (Hall
1980:403). Hall insists that cultural climax within a specific culture is relative to other cultures
geographically around it. While acknowledging that there are other viewpoints, given the
relative proximity between cultures, Hall suggests that there were two main cultural climaxes
within Illinois prehistory (Hall 1980). These are referred to as the Hopewellian Interaction
Sphere (B.C. 800 - A.D. 600) (Hall 1980) and the Mississippian (A.D. 1000 – 1400) cultural
events by modern scholars (Hall 1980; Smith 1992; Simon and Parker 2006; Fritz 1993). These
cultural events have been the subject of much research interest for Illinois prehistorians. Of
particular interest to many archaeologists is the subsistence of these dynamically evolving
cultures and, more specifically, the development of horticulture and agriculture in these time
periods and the environmental implications of these subsistence patterns.
In order to better understand the Hopewellian occupation of the American Bottom, Dr.
Julie Zimmermann Holt directed an archaeological field excavation of the Gehring (11MS99)
60
archaeological site on the SIUE campus in the summer of 2009 (Holt and Belknap 2010). In the
summer of 2010, Dr. Gregory Vogel directed further excavations of this site. Both excavations
revealed Middle Woodland (Hopewellian Interaction Sphere) period features; the 2010
excavation also revealed features dating to the Emergent Mississippian period. My research
interest in this site will be focused on the floral (plant) remains recovered. I am interested in
reconstructing the floral environment using paleoethnobotanical methods to understand the use
of native plant species in subsistence practices by the Hopewellian and Mississippian occupants
of the Gehring site.
Paleoethnobotany is the study of human-plant interactions with the purposes of
understanding culture and environment (Popper and Hastorf 1988). It is a joint discipline of
archaeology and botany with a focus on ecology. Such research can provide invaluable
information about a site from both an archaeological and ecological perspective. In archaeology,
regardless of the subfield, context is everything (Taylor 1948). Having the most accurate
depiction of the context of cultural phenomena in its entirety is essential. Through this study, I
acknowledge that the context of human existence and survival is not only sociocultural but
largely environmental. While genetics and the evolution thereof are exceptionally important in
the causation of human behavior, the environment in which an organism, human or plant, resides
shapes the organism’s survival. Understanding the environment in which humans reside, as well
as how they interact with it, is essential to understanding the entire context of an archaeological
site.
Literature Review
The American Bottom is located within a region recognized as one of the few locations
around the world to be home to the independent invention and development of agriculture and
plant domestication (Smith 1995). This makes this area and surrounding regions a very exciting
center of research. Further, thanks largely to CRM excavations during the 1970s and 1980s
(during which flotation sampling was standard), there are extensive paleoethnobotanical data
corresponding to this area which give extensive ability to researchers to draw conclusions
regarding the subsistence of the prehistoric inhabitants in this area. Johannesson’s work provides
an excellent starting point for analysis of human-plant interaction in this region (Johannesson
1993). Her work was revisited and revised in 2006 by Simon and Parker. They catalogue the
plants used by Native Americans from the Late Archaic through the Oneota periods (B.C. 3000 A.D. 1400) on archaeological sites in the American Bottom (Simon and Parker 2006). Simon
and Parker not only focus on plants used as food sources, but also on the types of woody plants
used for different purposes, such as kindling, domicile structures, ceremonial structures, and
partitions. They chose to follow Scarry’s terminology (as I do in my own work) as defined in the
introduction to Foraging and Farming in the Eastern Woodlands:
We use plant husbandry and cultivation to refer to activities such as tending,
weeding, breaking the soil, or planting that enhance the natural productivity of plants.
Domestication is reserved for genotypic changes that make cultivated plants
dependent on humans for their continuation (Scarry 1993:6).
Paleoethnobotanical methods allow researchers to identify domesticated seeds from those
used merely for cultivation based on seed anatomy and morphology. Using these methods,
61
Simon and Parker suggest that different plants reached different evolutionary degrees on the
gradient from cultivated wild plants to domesticated plants. It is clear that different plants were
cultivated and domesticated at different rates depending on the location in the American Bottom
(Simon and Parker 2006). Simon and Parker conclude that horticultural and agricultural
practices begin to emerge in the American Bottom during the Early and Middle Woodland
periods, and that most plants used were of native species (Simon and Parker 2006).
Initial domestication of native plants began in the central region of North America around
4500-3500 B.C. during the Late Archaic (Smith 1995; Yarnell 1993). Smith argues that special
circumstances of this region as a floodplain pre-adapted certain plants, which were abundant and
native to this area, to be easily domesticated by humans. Several native, weedy (competitive in
disturbed soils) species were abundant in the floodplain disturbed soils. These plants were easily
domesticated given that they would be responsive to anthropogenically disturbed soils and thus
easily lend themselves to human management (Smith 1995). From these native plants was
domesticated the American Bottom’s native starchy seed complex: knotweed (Polygonum
erectum), sumpweed (Iva annua), goosefoot (Chenopodium spp.), maygrass (Phalaris
carliniana), little barley (Hordeum pusillum) (Johannessen 1993, 1995; Rindos and Johannessen
2000; Smith 1995; Simon and Parker 2006; Yarnell 1993). There may be some arguments
regarding the proper definition of farming, horticulture, and cultivation, but it is generally agreed
that the archaeological record clearly shows that inhabitants in this region were actively
managing and interacting with native plants in a direct way (Yarnell 1993; Smith 1992; Fritz
1993). Fritz interprets the finds of seed caches of chenopod found in rockshelters as indicative
of storage with intent to cultivate. She also argues that these individuals “developed a unique
mixed food- producing and foraging system in a temperate climate with abundant but
unpredictable and seasonally restricted native plant resources” (Fritz 1993: ). ppp
There is a relatively substantial amount of plant-based subsistence data provided by the FAI270 and subsequent CRM projects. The Middle Woodland (150 B.C.E. – A.D. 300) time period,
often associated with the Hopewellian Interaction Sphere, exhibited a decrease in nut usage and
an increase in seeds. There is also a notable shift from floodplain wood species to upland oak
and hickory, suggesting possible floodplain deforestation, migration to the uplands, cultural
preference, or some amalgamation of the three (Simon and Parker 2006; Johannessen 1985).
With the Late Woodland (A.D. 300– 800) and the end of the Hopewellian Interaction Sphere, the
area showed yet another decrease in nutshell and increase in seed remains. Species of the native
starchy complex were the dominant representatives of the seed assemblages, suggesting greater
focus on cultigens and their storage. In the Emergent Mississippian (A.D. 800– 1050 ) and
Mississippian (A.D. 1050 – 1350) periods there is the adoption of maize and increase in its
prevalence (Johannesson 1993). The mechanism of maize adoption and the circumstances
surrounding it have been a source of sharp controversy amongst archaeologists.
Smith suggests that many of the studies of the 1980s had led researchers to “equate [maize]
with an agricultural economy in North America” (Smith 1992:203). The academic community
then assumed there to be a dichotomy between a maize supported agricultural economy and nonmaize non-agricultural settlements. He critiques the characterization of subsistence practices of
these periods previously described strictly as either “agriculturalists” or “pre-maize…hunter
gatherers” (Smith 1992:203) as an extreme oversimplification in need of revision. In 1994, a
62
report was published in American Antiquity announcing that Zea mays had been found on the
Middle Woodland period Holding Site (11MS118). Using accelerator mass spectrometry
(AMS), the maize was dated to between 170 B.C. and A.D. 10. This is the earliest known date
for maize to appear in the eastern United States and places maize in the early or middle phase of
the Middle Woodland period (Riley et al. 1994). This suggests that maize was available
throughout the entire Middle Woodland period. However, there is evidence that most groups of
individuals during this time period used no maize, and for those who did, it made no major
contribution to diet or economy (Fritz 1993; Yarnell 1993; Smith 1992). Initially, maize was
merely added to an already horticultural-semi-agricultural community as just another starchy
crop. Once its yield potential was realized, there was likely a focus on maize as a central
agricultural product (Rindos and Johannessen 2000).
It has been suggested that maize was adopted in a “mosaic pattern” - from one individual or
family to another - by late pre-contact farmers (Holt et al. 2010). The idea of a mosaic adoption
pattern is supported by the idea of the Hopewellian Interaction as a “great tradition” rather than a
complex social hierarchical structure (Hall 1980) in that it would have been culturally shared for
any variety of reasons rather than economically mandated. The idea ofa mosaic adoption is also
supported by the typical Middle Woodland dispersed settlement patterns consisting of several
small immediate family clusters (Smith 1992), since farming units would not necessarily be
closely integrated as a village. Also, since native plant domestication took place at different
rates for different species in different communities (Simon and Parker 2006), it is likely that
maize was adopted in a similar manner.
Goals and Hypothesis
The purpose of this research is to provide new data to form a cohesive, holistic view of the
individuals who occupied the Gehring site as members of the local ecosystem. Observing
humans from this viewpoint will give insight into how the environment has evolved and been
altered. Understanding the factors which cause change or destruction is necessary for any
attempt to restore and prevent further anthropogenic destruction. It is also important for current
conservation efforts to have a full understanding of the context of the local environment. It is
becoming more and more clear through paleoethnobotanical research that human land
management has taken place in this region, and North America as a whole, long before
Europeans arrived.
I expect to find plant remains representative of what is considered the ‘typical’
Hopewellian and Emergent Mississippian subsistence species as demonstrated by previous
research and comparative collections (Smith 1992; Smith 1995; Fritz 1993; Johannesson 1984;
Yarnell 1993; Scarry 1993; Simon and Parker 2006; Rindos and Johannesson 2000). It is
expected that during the Hopewellian Interaction Sphere there will be some use of the native
starchy seed complex, dominated by maygrass, accompanied with high levels of hazelnuts.
During the Mississippian period, it is expected that nut use will decrease and seed abundance
will increase, and maize will appear.
63
Methods
Flotation methods were used to recover the floral samples. Ten liters of dried sediment were
sampled per stratum in each feature when possible. These samples were separated into light
fractions and heavy fractions during the initial flotation procedure using a Flote Tech flotation
machine. Light fractions were then refloated in a zinc chloride solution with a specific gravity of
approximately 1.6. Light fractions were separated into size categories of >2mm and >0.5mm.
Those smaller than 2mm were scanned for seed remains and wood. Those greater than 2mm
were categorized as wood, seeds, stems, nutshell, squash, maize, or other miscellaneous plant
materials. Identifications were made using the comparative collection at the Illinois State
Museum under the direction of Marjorie Schroeder. Reference materials used for identification
included Martin and Barkley (1961), Steyermark (1963), and Montgomery (1977). Samples have
been identified to the lowest taxonomic level possible. Maize was counted in fractional pieces,
not entire parts such as cupules, glumes, embryos or kernels. Also, some chenopod seeds were
found split in half and each of these was counted individually.
Results
Flotation samples were taken from seven features. Features 111 (test unit M), 158 (test unit
R and U), and 160 (test unit S) are grouped together as they are thought to represent a similar
temporal range, the Middle Woodland period with Havana Hopewell influences. Features 138
(test unit Q), 161 (test unit T and N), and 162 (test unit N) have been grouped together as they
are also thought to represent a similar temporal range, the Emergent Mississippian period.
Though only one feature (138) contained artifacts designated to phase (the Edelhardt Phase of
the Emergent Mississippian period) with certainty, there was a large Mill Creek lithic hoe
recovered from the former structure basin (161), which would correlate with a similar temporal
range. Therefore, the data from both of these features will be referred to as Edelhardt for this
investigation. It is important to note that the ceramic analysis, which will be further delineated
below, is preliminary and warrants further analysis. Features 139 (test unit Q) and 163 (test unit
N) are small, indeterminate features with few or no remains recovered from the samples. They
will therefore be disregarded in this preliminary analysis, though their data may later become
important as their context is made less ambiguous.
Looking at anthropogenic change through time, it is important to highlight the major trends
in each time period. For this purpose the most significant data from all samples in all features of
each time period have been combined into totals for each time period. Table 1 demonstrates the
nut composition of the two temporal assemblages, while figure 2 shows the seed counts. All
counts have been standardized per 10L sample.
It should be noted that, while a large number of specimens were indeterminate in the
form of either Juglandacea or the broader Juglandacea/Corylus, the percentages of hazelnuts and
of hickory nuts during the Middle Woodland period are consistent both with the models
suggested above and with the comparative data in this region presented by Simon and Parker
(Simon and Parker 2006: 222). The relatively small amount of nutshell recovered from the
Edelhardt Phase assemblage, as well as the dominance of hickory of those nuts which were
recovered, is similarly consistent both with the above models and with data presented by Simon
and Parker (Simon and Parker 2006).
64
Table 1. Nutshell specimens representative of each time period.
Nutshell Taxa
Carya spp. (thick-shelled hickory)
Corylus americana(hazelnut)
Juglandaceae (hickory or black
walnut)
Juglandaceae/Corylus
(indeterminate shell type)
Juglans cinerea (butternut)
Juglans nigra(black walnut)
Quercus spp. (oak acorn)
Total nutshell count
Wood
Wood:Nut Ratio
Middle
Woodland
61
115
% MW
18.047337
34.023669
Edelhardt
Phase
40
8
% EM
40
8
57
16.863905
24
24
11
0
55
39
338
380
0.889473684
3.2544379
0
16.272189
11.538462
9
0
19
0
100
867
0.115340254
9
0
19
0
100
Table 2. Seed specimens representative of each period
Middle
Seed Taxa
Woodland
% MW
Chenopodium berlandieri
(chenopod)
Chenopodium or Polygonum
(perisperm)
Galium spp. (bedstraw)
Hordeum pusillum (wild little
barley)
Panicum sp.
Phalaris caroliniana
(maygrass)
Poaceae (unidentified grass)
Polygonum erectum
(knotweed)
Portulaca oleraceae
(purslane)
Solanum
Strophostyles
Rhus spp. (sumac)
Vitis spp. (grape)
Vitaceae (grape, fox grape,
etc)
unidentifiable seed fragments
Total Seed Count
Seed taxa count
Zea mays
Edelhardt
Phase
% EM
25
14.2045455
253
36.039886
3
3
1.70454545
1.70454545
3
1
0.4273504
0.1424501
4
0
2.27272727
0
2
2
0.2849003
0.2849003
39
2
22.1590909
1.13636364
26
5
3.7037037
0.7122507
15
8.52272727
92
13.105413
1
0
1
2
0
0.56818182
0
0.56818182
1.13636364
0
5
10
15
1
1
0.7122507
1.4245014
2.1367521
0.1424501
0.1424501
0
81
176
95
42
0
46.0227273
0
286
702
462
0
40.740741
523
65
Once again, it should be noted that the seed assemblage represented is consistent both
with above models and previous data (Simon and Parker 2006). During the Middle Woodland,
the Eastern Starchy Seed Complex is the primary representation with maygrass being the
dominant species. Also, the Edelhardt Phase data demonstrate a rise in chenopod prevalence
accompanied by an increase in seed prevalence overall.
Following are more detailed explanations of the individual features sampled.
Middle Woodland
Feature 111
Feature 111 was approximately 65 cm in width and 60-65 cm in depth. The south section
was excavated as one level along the east-west midline of Test Unit M. The first flot was sample
taken from the center of the south half (between 60-80 cm bd). The north section of the feature
was excavated in 20 cm arbitrary levels. Three flot samples were taken from each level (55, 72,
and 93 cm bd). There were two zones in the feature. The uppermost zone (zone 1) was a dark
brown (7.5YR3/2) silty clay loam and spanned approximately 30-60 cmbd. The bottom zone
(zone 2) was a dark brown (7.5YR3/2) silty clay which was mixed with subsoil and
approximately 60-95 cm bd.
Due to the small counts and the manner of bisection, the sample data were combined to
represent the entire feature. The first flot was taken from the center of the feature, while the
remaining three were taken from along the edge of the feature. Major differences were noticed
in the counts and abundance of the level four sample. This appears to be because the fourth level
may have been excavated beyond the feature boundaries and into the surrounding non-feature
subsoil.
Thick shelled hickory (Carya thick spp.) and hazelnut (Corylus americana.) and acorn
(Quercus spp.) nutshells were dominant in the >2 mm fraction. Carya spp. (both thick and thin
shelled hickory), Corylus spp., Juglandaceae (hickory or black walnut), Juglandaceae-Corylus,
Quercus spp., J. nigra, wood, bark, and grass stems were all present in the 0.5-2 mm fraction of
the flot samples. Maygrass and chenopod were the most dominant seeds, though knotweed was
also well represented. Zea mays kernels and cupules were also present in both zones in the 0.5-2
mm fractions.
The feature yielded ceramic fragments which were designated as a mix of both Marion Thick
and Havanna ware by Dr. John Kelly. Though ceramics and lithic artifacts yielded from the
feature have yet to be fully analyzed and the ceramics were intermixed between the zones,
feature 111 is designated as multi-use Early and Middle Woodland for the purpose of this paper.
Feature 158
Feature 158 was approximately 102 cm in diameter and 64 cm deep. The west half was
excavated as one level and a flot sample was taken from the center this first level (approx. 40 cm
bd). The east half was excavated in 20 cm arbitrary levels (three in total) , and flot samples were
66
taken from center of each level (no precise cm bd was recorded for the final three samples). The
feature did not exhibit stratification but was a uniform dark redish brown (5YR 4/2) clay.
The nutshells identified were dominated by hazelnuts, though thick shelled hickory nuts were
also prominent. The identified seeds were dominated by maygrass, though little barley was also
well represented. Thick shelled hickory, hazelnut, black walnut, and indeterminate nut types as
well as wood and bark were present in the 0.5-2 mm fractions of the feature samples. No maize
was recovered from this feature.
The ceramics recovered yielded a single grog tempered, Naples stamped sherd and a single
Hopewellian zoned stamped sherd. The majority of the sherds were grog tempered and the pit
has been preliminarily designated as Middle Woodland (possibly as late as Holding Phase) by
Dr. John Kelly.
Feature 160
Feature 160 was approximately 112 cm in diameter and 60 cm deep. The feature was
bisected and the south half was excavated as one level. Flot samples were taken from the top (50
cmbd) and bottom (73 cm bd) of the first level. The north half was excavated in 20 cm arbitrary
levels. Flot samples were taken from the center of each level in the north half, three samples in
total. The feature exhibited a mixing of four zones, the nature of which is indeterminate. The
uppermost zone (zone 1) was a dark brown (10YR 3/3) silty clay loam; the middle zone (zone 2)
was a silty clay loam with a mix of 40% dark brown (10YR 3/3) and 60% dark yellowish brown
(10YR 4/4); there were two pocket zones (zone 4) which were very dark grayish brown (10YR
3/2) silty clay loam; the final and dominant zone (zone 3) was a silty clay loam with a mixture of
60% dark brown (10YR 3/3) and 40% dark yellowish brown (10YR 4/4).
The identified nutshells were mostly hazelnuts with some thick shelled hickory in the >2 mm
fraction of the samples. Thick shelled hickory, hazelnut, black walnut, and indeterminate nut
types as well as wood, bark, Cucuritaceae, Strophostyles and nutmeats were identified in the 0.52 mm fraction of the samples. The seeds recovered were dominated by maygrass, though both
chenopod and knotweed were also well represented. Five Zea mays kernels, three cupules, and
one glume were also present.
The ceramic artifacts recovered from this feature were a mix of grit and grog tempered, cord
marked sherds. There was one shell tempered, red slip Mississippian sherd recovered. The
feature has been preliminarily designated as mostly Middle Woodland mixed with Emergent
Mississippian by Dr. John Kelly.
Emergent Mississippian
Feature 138
Feature 138 was approximately 144 cm in width at top, 140 cm in width at bottom, and 70
cm deep. The east half was excavated as one level and two flot samples were taken, one from 55
and one from 66 cm bd. The west half was excavated in 20 cm arbitrary levels. Flot samples
67
were taken from the center each level of the west half, four in total. The feature was uniform
and exhibited no stratification. No Munsell was recorded.
The identified nutshells >2mm were dominantly thick shelled hickory or either thick shelled
hickory or black walnut. Thick shelled hickory, hazelnut, black walnut, and indeterminate nut
types as well as wood, bark and grass stems were all present in the 0.5-2 mm fractions.
Identified seeds were dominated by chenopod, though knotweed was also well represented. At
least 365 Zea mays kernels were present in the feature, and an uncounted (due to extreme
fragmentation) amount of glumes and cupules were also present.
The ceramic sample recovered from this feature was the largest and contained more
diagnostics than any other features. Sherds included several grit and grog tempered Madison
County shale sherds, grit and grog tempered smoothed over cord marked sherds, one Monk’s
Mound red sherd, several shell tempered sherds, and a red-slip inside shell tempered sherd. Dr.
John Kelly classified the majority of the sherds as belonging to the Edelhardt Phase in the
Emergent Mississippian period. Several hoe flakes were also recovered both from feature 138
and from test unit Q.
Feature 161
Feature 161 has been identified as the floor of some type of structure by Dr. Gregory Vogel.
Only the north-east corner of the structure was excavated. The excavated portion was
approximately 120 cm in length, while the side running north-west with a positive slope through
test unit N and T was approximately 250 cm. The east half of the excavated portion was located
in test unit N and was sampled arbitrarily from the excavated portion in the unit at approximately
66 cm bd. The second flot sample was taken from test unit T arbitrarily from approximately 66
cm bd as well. The feature was a uniform brown (10YR 4.5/3) with faint discontinuous ped
linings of very dark grayish brown (10YR 3/2).
Of the nutshells identified from the >2 mm fraction, 26% were hazelnut while the majority
were either indeterminate or either hickory or black walnut. There was also one Vitis sp. seed
recovered from the >2 mm fraction of the second sample (bag 6) and recorded in the seed table.
The seeds recovered from the 0.5-2 mm fractions were predominantly (93%) chenopod. One
Zea mays kernel was present as well as one cupule and a large amount of uncounted (due to
fragmentation) glume pieces.
Very few ceramic artifacts were recovered from this feature. However, they were
preliminarily designated as Emergent Mississippian by Dr. John Kelly. Also, there was a Mill
Creek stone hoe recovered from the feature, which is also diagnostic of the late Emergent
Mississippian and early Mississippian Periods.
Feature 162
Feature 162 was a possible post hole, located at north-east corner of Feature 161. It was dark
with large amounts of charcoal flecked throughout. A large chunk of wood (dimensions
10x10c2.5 cm) surrounded by limestone cobbles/pebbles was excavated at approximately 40-45
cm bd. A flot sample was taken directly above(41-47 cm bd) and directly below the wood chunk
(47-52 cm bd). The piece of wood, while appearing well preserved on the exterior, was fully
68
rotten through and appears to be at least two separate pieces. Further analysis is underway and
proper curation is in progress.
No nutshells >2 mm were present. Hazelnut, black walnut, and indeterminate nut types as
well as wood, and bark were present in the 0.5-2 mm fraction. Of the seeds identified, chenopod
dominated, though little barley, maygrass, and bedstraw (Gallium sp.) were also present.
Though neither ceramic nor lithic artifacts were recovered from this feature, it is considered
to be strongly linked to feature 161, particularly since it is likely that it is a post hole and the
wood sample recovered was part of the structure. Therefore, this feature will likewise be
regarded as Emergent Mississippian.
Undated Features
Feature 139
Feature 139 was a small feature, approximately 28 cm in diameter and 6 cm deep. A single
flot sample was taken from the center of feature. It was a very dark brown (10YR 2/2), but no
further soil description was given. This feature yielded one specimen of charred wood and two
unidentified seeds. There were neither ceramic nor lithic artifacts recovered.
Feature 163
This feature was partially excavated along the east-west boundary of test unit N. It was
approximately 24 cm in width and 26 cm in length. A single flot was taken from west half (50
cmbd). The feature fill was primarily yellowish dark brown (10YR ¾) mixed with light
brownish gray (10YR 6/2).
Nutshells present were mostly thick shelled hickory. Thick shelled hickory, black walnut,
and indeterminate nut types as well as wood and bark were present in the 0.5-2 mm fraction.
Only knotweed and maygrass were present in the 0.5-2 mm fraction. No other artifacts were
recovered from this feature and therefore it is temporally ambiguous.
I.
Discussion
The overall trends of the data support all of the proposed models and are consistent with
other data from this region (Simon and Parker 2006; Johannennson 1984). As expected,
hazelnuts were prominent during the Middle Woodland (assumedly as an indication of Hopewell
occupation) as were hickory nuts. Also, all four of the Eastern Starchy Seed Complex were
present in the Middle Woodland features. The relative seed prevalence also was much higher in
the Emergent Mississippian period as expected. Maize was found in Emergent Mississippian
context, as expected, but also in Middle Woodland context, which will be further discussed
below.
The percentage of hazelnuts present (34%) in the Middle Woodland period features suggests
that the occupation of the site coincided with the Hopewellian Interaction Sphere (Simon and
Parker 2006: 223). The 2009 excavation, which was dated to the Holding phase of the Middle
Woodland, showed a slightly smaller prominence of hazelnut (17%), though this is not
inconsistent in comparison with other assemblages. The nature of hazel as a shrubby plant which
69
thrives in disturbed areas suggests that the areas around the Gehring site were disturbed in some
manner. While the individuals using the site may have begun to clear the adjacent upland areas
for the purpose of more cultivation grounds (Koldehoff and Galloy 2006), they may also have
been conducting some type of scheduled burning (Simon and Parker 2006; Killburn and Brugam
2010). Hazelnuts grow well in open forest understory with low density tree populations, a
vegetation community maintained by occasional burning. This implies, then, that burning
occurred in these forest communities on a semi-regular basis. It may be possible that burning was
conducted for the purposes of hunting and the growth of hazel and other shrubby plants may
have merely been incidental. However, this seems unlikely. It would appear that if, during the
Holding and subsequent phases of the Middle Woodland, populations were growing and
continuously harvesting their resources (such as deforesting the adjacent uplands), then the hazel
consumption would have spiked in the Early and Middle Middle Woodland and then begun to
taper off. However, for several hundred years there is a consistent and similar proportion of
hazelnuts found in nut assemblages (Simon and Parker 2006: 222-225). This suggests that the
habitat closely surrounding the Gehring site remained somewhat stable throughout the Middle
Woodland occupation of this site. It is unlikely that the occupants would continue to forage
farther and farther away from the site if the forest edge, where hazel would be most prominent,
were in constant recession away from the site as a consequence of wood harvest. One could
argue that hazel consumption could have had some unknown cultural importance since it was
maintained for several hundred years, but this is merely conjecture. It is clear though that some
type of forest management was occurring during this time, perhaps in the form of burning
(Killburn and Brugam 2010; Simon and Parker 2006). It is unclear, however, what was the
precise purpose of this burning. This management may or may not have been specifically for
hazelnut management but for small mammal habitat as hunting grounds.
It is also unclear why the hazelnut consumption was not continued into the later Emergent
Mississippian periods. It is possible that the cultural evolution from the dispersed Hopewellian
Interaction Sphere, with no state level organization, to the later Emergent Mississippian and
Mississippian periods, in which Cahokia acted as a centralized organizing unit, caused hazelnut
consumption and forest management to become obsolete practices. Rising populations would
force the occupants to require more wood and more ample food sources. Given that subsistence
is conservative (Binford 1968), it would be unlikely that the occupants would expend effort to
rely so heavily on a particular nut type (which would not be domesticated easily) while the local
floodplain weeds, and eventually maize, were so readily available.
Overall, the nut consumption clearly decreases through time, indicating a decrease in
foraging and wild food source consumption. The number of nutshells present in the Middle
Woodland/Hopewell occupation is over three times higher than the Edelhardt occupation, though
more charcoal in total was recovered from the Edelhardt occupation features. This may be
because only one pit feature of the Edelhardt was sampled, while three pit features of the Middle
Woodland/Hopewellian occupation were sampled. However, buds and small stem bark appeared
in the Edelhardt occupation, suggesting the use of younger woods which may coincide with
deforestation and receding forest edge away from the site. This is consistent with an increase in
cultivation and dependence on cultivated crops as well as an abandonment of forest management
and maintenance practices.
70
It can be safely assumed that the Middle Woodland/Hopewellian occupants of the site were
engaging in some type of cultivation and horticultural practice. The Eastern Starchy Seed
Complex was present in all features and, as expected, maygrass did in fact dominate (Simon and
Parker 2006). Four times as many seeds were recovered from the Edelhardt occupation than the
Middle Woodland/Hopewellian. Chenopod dominated the native seed assemblage. This may be
an indicator of monocrop agricultural systems rather than the small garden complex of the earlier
periods. The seed coats of the chenopod recovered were not measured, therefore it is unknown
what percentage, if any, of these chenopod were the domesticate subspecies.
Maize was present in three of the four pit features, as well as the former structure. The
extremely high number of maize fragments present in the Edelhardt component, simultaneous
with the high number of chenopod, is consistent with the idea that maize was added during the
Emergent Mississippian as a supplement to the native seeds, not as a replacement (Rindos and
Johannesson 2003). The predominance of both chenopod and maize in the Edelhardt pit feature
suggests monocrop agriculture, as suggested above. However, the presence of maize in two
Middle Woodland/Hopewellian features is surprising, particularly since one feature (111)
contains Marion Thick sherds. It may be that this pit was reused over time. Also, the small
amount of maize recovered from 111 may indicate that it is an invasive contaminant due to site
reuse and plow disturbance. Regardless, the context, and corresponding lithic and ceramic
artifacts, of the recovered maize requires further analysis to determine the likelihood that this
maize is in fact in good Middle Woodland/Hopewellian context. If this is determined, this maize
should be AMS radiocarbon dated. Were this maize in fact dated to the Middle Woodland, it
would be monumental in that it would be only the second Middle Woodland site in the American
Bottom region to have maize (Simon and Parker 2006; Riley et al. 1994).
It should be noted that there were no oily seeds recovered (sunflower), nor any significant
amount of cucurbit. The 2009 excavation yielded some sunflower, but very few. Therefore,
given the small sample size for each temporal range, as well as the small amount of the site
which has been excavated, it is possible that there are several confounding factors which have
yet to be seen.
The data indicate that the Gehring site has been periodically used for cultivation both in the
Hopewellian cultural expression during the Middle Woodland and the Emergent Mississippian
periods. The presence of the native starchy seed complex as well as evidence of stone tools used
for cultivation in both the presence and absence of maize suggests that the intentional plant
production, assumedly as a food source, took place at this site from possibly as early as 500 B.C.
Maize production also occurred at this site alongside the native cultigens and increased through
time.
This data is preliminary given that more analysis must be done with the artifact assemblage
yielded by the 2010 excavation, and still much more work is in progress. The botanical remains
of this site will continue to be further analyzed in light of more analysis. It would be beneficial
to AMS date the maize recovered from Middle Woodland features to determine a more specific
period for the appearance of maize at this site. Full analysis will also be completed on the wood
remains recovered from the 2010 excavation, which was beyond the scope of this project. These
data, in conjunction with the archaeobotanical data recovered in 2009, will aid in further
71
botanical reconstruction of the successional communities of the surrounding areas and assessing
their change through time. In the summer of 2011, further excavation will take place at the
Gehring site to recover additional samples of botanical materials from the former structure and
surrounding area. Further statistical analysis is also currently in progress, as well as more in
depth analysis of the data.
72
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75
Appendix A: Test Unit and Feature Artifact Counts
Table 6. Feature Artifact Counts.
Feature
111
116
120
127
128
136
137
138
144
154
156
157
158
160
161
162
Chert
191
1
1
1
1
Sherds
51
7
172
1
1
580
1
FCR
3
FCR (g)
99
Bone
52
1
34
531
34
1
16
Burned
earth (g)
89
0.11
Other
1 scraper; 1 hematite
1
1.3
751
2 hoe flakes
1
1
1
55
152
69
16
95
108
201
4
7
17
6
4
153
1034
96
15.58
37
81
10
7
Table 7. Test Unit Artifact Counts.
Test Unit Level
J
1
J
1
J
1
J
1
J
1
J
1
J
1
J
1
J
1
J
2
J
2
J
2
J
2
J
2
J
3
J
3
J
3
J
3
J
5
K
1
K
1
K
1
Type
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
other (blade)
other (hoe flake)
other (shell)
pottery
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
pottery
burned earth
historic
lithic
pottery
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
Count Weight
0.38
1
61.92
53
370.7
8
108
72
162 140.12
2.9
1
0.28
1
1.78
1
138 176.62
9
25
3
9.58
2
2.54
22
52.18
5
8.72
4
103.4
4
10.35
3
10.4
6
5.81
1
4.2
12
2.38
79
68.91
3 210.55
69
108
11
420
1 blade
1 blade; 1 mica; mud dauber nest
1 hoe
76
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
K
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
L
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
3
3
3
3
3
5
5
5
7
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
3
3
4
4
4
4
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
3
historic
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
historic
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
burned earth
lithic
pottery
historic
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
other (galena)
pottery
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
pottery
lithic
pottery
burned earth
fcr
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
other (biface)
other (galena)
other (hoe flake)
pottery
bone
lithic
pottery
bone
249
89
55
5
35
82
44
21
1
5
1
4
8
2
1
2
2
10
198
3
9
502
2
143
11
1
2
59
11
8
3
6
1
4
10
16
221
51
71
565
3
1
5
480
1
17
14
5
285
58.33
66.36
1.47
21.04
76.24
19.74
31.57
0.17
101
1.82
4.96
3.08
0.28
0.12
0.93
1.04
2.72
118.5
93.25
42
400.02
4.61
274.1
7.41
14.85
4.1
58.78
22.19
5.81
18.1
13.98
6.75
3.4
31.63
5.94
150.49
510.94
157
430.54
42.93
7.85
4.42
630.53
0.34
8.46
13.2
0.93
77
M
M
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O
P
P
P
P
P
P
P
P
3
3
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
5
5
6
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
lithic
other (copper)
other (galena)
other (hoe flake)
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
lithic
other (bead)
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
other (hoe flake)
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
lithic
other (blade)
other (copper)
other (hoe flake)
pottery
burned earth
pottery
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
other (biface)
pottery
bone
11
3
4
18
28
294
1
1
2
485
4
12
5
1
71
132
1
234
51
209
1
339
1
29
41
73
86
1
190
12
116
12
150
1
1
1
155
1
6
1
14
5
25
189
218
1
340
4
3.14
2.86
1.93
16.16
472.94
213.15
1.05
2.02
0.67
572.94
1.09
48.69
167.96
0.47
56.54
294.65
1.58
127.38
489.8
194.04
0.41
350
0.24
17.06
117
66.84
52.74
0.13
209.2
2.64
80
53.1
79.1
1.93
0.4
0.1
219.5
4.1
5.3
1.8
4.89
3.27
468.05
371.16
178.17
10.5
326.69
2.05
78
P
P
P
P
P
P
P
P
P
P
P
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
T
T
T
T
2
2
2
2
2
3
3
3
3
3
3
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
other (hoe flake)
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
other (blade)
other (galena)
pottery
burned earth
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
8
15
105
138
283
3
1
6
34
73
108
18
36
22
373
185
3
293
2
3
3
2
11
5
51
10
7
165
1
1
224
23
48
109
2
41
31
92
141
1
14
8
17
26
4
62
73
93
10.77
417.94
455.3
118.79
253.4
1
3.04
221.06
64.14
55.82
144.98
5.21
40.67
306.55
587.69
137.55
3.27
463.92
0.19
93
27.53
0.44
3.47
1.07
32.54
353.6
32.62
108.37
1.34
1.55
334.5
29.19
55.2
260.66
1.38
26.14
124.87
91.95
197.34
0.68
12.64
93.92
27.75
39.89
1.7
31.1
1740.9
105.49
79
T
T
T
T
T
T
T
T
U
U
U
U
U
U
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
lithic
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
lithic
other (hoe flake)
pottery
bone
burned earth
fcr
historic
lithic
pottery
250
503
3
27
13
45
1
57
2
56
15
7
51
104
183.51
596.79
0.8
14.2
40.69
25.18
1.37
147.69
0.73
48.7
63.05
4.18
30.94
117.63
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