CURRENT RESEARCH IN THE LOWER HURON AND VERMILION RIVER VALLEYS OF NORTHCENTRAL OHIO

David M. Stothers, Andrew M. Schneider, and Jason M. Koralewski

University of Toledo
Ohio Archaeological Council © 2001

The University of Toledo's Western Lake Erie Archaeological Research Program, in conjunction with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland State University, and the Sandusky Bay Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Ohio, has initiated long-term archaeological research investigations of the Taylor Site (33ER3), located in Erie County along the lower Huron River. The Taylor site was previously test excavated by Emerson Greenman of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society in 1930 as part of his research in the area, which also included work on the nearby Esch Mound Site.

Figure 1. Taylor site chronology
Figure 1. Taylor site chronology
 


Based upon Greenman's earlier excavations and the more recent field work undertaken by the University of Toledo, multiple components have been recognized at the Taylor Site. The site is represented by a Late Archaic Satchell Complex component, a Middle Woodland Esch Phase component, Late Woodland Green Creek and Eiden Phase components, a small Western Basin Tradition component, and an historic component represented by an early 19th century cabin occupation (Figure 1). The primary component is an Eiden Phase mortuary and habitation site. These investigations are being undertaken to investigate the early Late Woodland time period, when populations are shifting from a period of small extended family hunter/gatherer/horticultural hamlets to early agricultural 'village' life. Additionally, it is hoped that regional mortuary patterns from this time period will be further clarified through these excavations.

Initial testing began in early 1992 when eight burials were located in a small test trench near the river. These burials included a Green Creek Phase cremation dated to A.D. 470+/-60 (Beta-131773) and A.D. 360+/-70 (Beta-130044). Upon returning in 2000, a series of forty-eight 50 cm by 50 cm tests units were excavated across the site, from which artifact densities were calculated (Figure 2). Similarly, magnetometer work on the site was conducted by the Geology Department at the University of Toledo. Based upon data from these early surveys, a series of large units was excavated which produced seventeen additional burials and a number of historic features. While most of the burials lacked any associated grave furniture, over one hundred flat, disc conch shell beads were found near the neck of one burial, while a steatite 'elbow' pipe and grit tempered Eiden Phase ceramics were both associated with another burial. Osteological analysis is currently underway at the Cleveland State University, and flourine dating analysis is being conducted at Kent State University for each burial.

The historic features apparently are associated with a cabin belonging to William and Elizabeth Pollock. The cabin represents a post "War of 1812" occupation dating to the 1820's and 1830's. This range of occupation is confirmed by county land records and an 1829 large "Liberty-Head" penny recovered near the remains of the central fireplace. Architectural artifacts and kitchen items including stoneware, earthenware, and transfer-printed pearlware of the black, brown, purple, red and green colors are associated with cabin floor and central fireplace.

Figure 2. Spatial distribution of total artifacts counts at Taylor site
Figure 2. Spatial distribution of total artifacts counts at Taylor site
 


In addition to the Taylor Site, recent initiation of long-term investigation of the prehistory of the Vermilion River Valley has documented two Western Basin Tradition mortuary districts represented by the Franks (33LN13) and Moes (33LN55) Sites. At present, the populations which represent these sites are the eastern-most known for the Western Basin Tradition.