Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc.
Post Circles, Lost Enclosures, and Pits Galore: An Update on Large Area Geophysical Survey at Several Ross County Earthwork Sites
Over the last two years, large-area magnetic surveys at several earthwork sites in Ross County have resulted in many new archaeological discoveries, as well as numerous lighting strikes and other strange anomalies. In this presentation I briefly explore magnetic survey results from Hopewell Mound Group, High Bank Works, and Hopeton Works. At Hopewell the square reluctantly showed itself in the magnetic data but new details about the site's circles (e.g., gateways, post circles, strategically positioned pits) indicate a level of site structure not previously known. The data at High Bank offer up many surprises, including a new enclosure and post circle, many pits, and intriguing feature clusters near the center of the octagon and great circle. The new Hopeton data, collected well outside the earthwork, nicely compliment the large-area surface surveys conducted by the NPS in the last 20 years, e.g., many of the surface artifact clusters are accompanied by subsurface pits. The presentation wraps up with new data from a long-lost Squier and Davis earthwork that is lost no more!
Genheimer, Robert A.
George Rieveschl Curator of Archaeology
Cincinnati Museum Center
The Policeman in the Privy: A Story of Family, Violence, and Concealment in a Turn-of-the-Century Cincinnati Privy Shaft
During the excavation of a 20-foot deep privy shaft in downtown Cincinnati in 1981, a series of unusual artifacts was encountered at approximately 13 feet below surface at the interface between fecal deposits and overlying fill and combustion byproducts. Some of these items include black/blue uniform scraps, a metal waist buckle stamped POLICE, a metal double tube police whistle, more than two-dozen gilt metal buttons stamped either P or POLICE (with seal of City of Cincinnati), two badly corroded metal badges, 2 bronze police call box keys, unfired 32, 38, and 41 caliber pistol rounds, a loaded 41 caliber pocket derringer, and a wood and rubber stamp. These items represent the remains of a policeman’s uniform and pocket contents that were thrown into the privy shaft approximately 1899-1901. The policeman, Charles Dustin, was identified from the wood and rubber stamp. Charles lived at this address from approximately 1899 till early 1902. Despite the fact that Charles had a Cincinnati Police uniform, early archival research revealed that Charles was actually a mercantile policeman charged with guarding homes of the wealthy. More recent archival research reveals that Charles was the son of a Civil War hero and prominent Cincinnati defense attorney. This research also reveals a startling story of jealousy, confrontation, arrest, and incarceration, all within a two year period. While neither the archaeology nor the historic documents can tell the complete story of these encounters, they do highlight the secretive nature of some privy deposits.
Purtill, Matthew P.
West Virginia University
Department of Geology and Geography
A Geo-Science Approach to Unraveling the Fill History of a Mississippian Period House Feature at the Angle Mounds Site, Indiana
Despite the considerable emphasis placed on house features as a source of social information for Mississippian societies, little attention has been afforded to developing accurate reconstructions of their formation, and fill, histories. As a result, archaeological interpretations based on various aspects of house features (construction type, function, and abandonment) are difficult to verify. An integrated geo-science approach is especially well-suited to address questions of formation histories for house features. This paper briefly discusses the results of a geo-science investigation of a house basin deposit at the Late Prehistoric Angel Mounds Site in southwestern Indiana. A range of analytical techniques (micromorphology, geochemistry, magnetic susceptibility, granulometry, scanning electron microscopy, etc.) were used to decipher the nature of a house midden deposit. Study findings indicate non-homogenous midden fill that likely resulted from at least two discrete fill episodes. Evidence also indicates that at one point, the abandoned house basin was used for disposal of organic wastes, including potential human excreta. The possible use of the abandoned house basin as a repository for human latrine waste has not been previously documented in Mississippian studies.
Archaeology Reviews Manager
Ohio Historic Preservation Office
Report to OAC Members on GAPP Summit and Thoughts on the Future of CRM
Representatives from the shale oil development industry, archaeologists, cultural resource managers, and preservation organizations met on Friday, March 21, 2014, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to explore opportunities for industry to adopt voluntary measures and standards to consider impacts to archaeological sites. GAPP - Gas and Preservation Partnership - organized the summit to stimulate discussion of ways that the shale oil development industry can work with archaeologists to preserve archaeological sites. A brief summary will outline the presentations offered at the summit. Substantive comments will be offered on ramifications for CRM in a changing world.
Identification, evaluation, and treatment of lithic scatters in Ohio: A roundtable discussion
At the 2013 Midwest Archaeological Council (MAC) meeting in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Albert Pecora presented a paper titled An Evaluation of Common Perceptions in Ohio’s CRM Archaeology, which raised questions about the typical manner in which CRM archaeologists in Ohio identify and evaluate lithic scatters. Of particular interest was the concern that debitage density is not an accurate predictor of the information potential of a site and that we may be loosing valuable information because so many lithic scatters are not considered to have research value.
The concepts presented by Dr. Pecora sparked the idea for a more in-depth discussion of the issue at the spring 2014 Ohio Archaeological Council meeting. Dr. Pecora was asked to expand on the ideas presented in his 2013 MAC paper and a group of discussants was formed to lend their perspectives to the discussion.
Our roundtable will begin with a lengthier presentation by Dr. Pecora. Participants will be asked to comment on Dr. Pecora's paper and the broader issues of how we identify, evaluate, and treat small lithic scatters in Ohio's CRM archaeology, particularly those scatters that have no temporal affiliation. The discussion will be opened to the general audience, with consideration of best practices being one of several topics that we hope to address.
Moderator: Dr. Kevin Schwarz, ASC Group, Inc.
Participants: Dr. Bruce Aument, ODOT, Office of Environmental Service
Dr. Robert Chidester, The Mannik & Smith Group
Dr. Kevin Nolan, Ball State University
Dr. Albert Pecora, Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc.
Dr. David Snyder, Ohio Historic Preservation Office
Formal Presentation Abstract
Ohio Valley Archaeology Inc.
The Meaning of Lithic Debris and Fire-Cracked Rock in Ohio's CRM Archaeology: A Review
We have several problems in Ohio CRM archaeology and I think many of these are derived from seeking the easy-way-out when evaluating archaeological sites during surveys. One specific problem is the common use of lithic debris quantity, often referred to as density, to evaluate archaeological sites at the Phase I survey level. This problem is not unique to Ohio but is leading to the systematic disregard and destruction of Ohio’s past. Lithic debris is one of the most visible artifact classes but it is being incorrectly used as an evaluative tool. If we do not correct this problem, there will be a very big gap in our understanding of prehistoric life here in Ohio. Fixing this problem is not hard, we simply need to re-assess this thing we call a lithic scatter and pay more attention to fire-cracked rock (FCR).
An “unidentified lithic scatter” is not a behavioral or functional site type. Instead, it is an underdocumented location of prehistoric human activity, and that activity is highly variable through time and over space. Lithic artifact density is not a measure of function, occupation intensity, or archaeological importance/significance. Other than places where flint sources were easily exploitable, there is little reason to expect a residential site from any time period to contain substantial quantities of archaeologically detectable lithic debris. Phase I CRM survey reports frequently argue that because a site is an unassigned lithic scatter with few lithic artifacts it must be an “ephemeral camp” with little or no archaeological significance. These same reports often make little or no mention of the presence of FCR. When FCR is mentioned, it is not uncommon to read that it was not collected or cataloged because it has little or no “research” value. With the application of these conceptions, there should be little wonder that 70% of Ohio’s archaeological site data base (OAI) is composed of unassigned lithic scatters that will never be investigated beyond the Phase I survey level.
Using archaeological data and a grounded understanding of the organization of stone tool production and use, I seek to dispel these myths. I contend that Ohio contains many “low density” sites that were formed from a myriad of other activities that were necessary for hunter-gatherer life. These sites often contain, or contained, sub-surface features of various types, house/shelter foundations, datable carbon remains, a variety of tools, and other sources of important archaeological data- but little or no lithic debris. The presence of FCR, which reflects prehistoric thermal feature use, should be the primary tool for identifying and evaluating archaeological sites at the Phase I survey level. Well-planned, targeted Phase II site evaluation studies should be conducted on all sites that contain FCR, even those where only a handful of flint flakes were recovered during the Phase I survey.