William E. Rutter

Andrew M. Schneider

Jason M. Koralewski

Midwest Environmental Consultants, Inc.

Ohio Archaeological Council © 2000


Midwest Environmental Consultants, Inc., a member of the Mannik & Smith Group, recently initiated Phase III excavations at two prehistoric sites, 33Wy674 and 33Wy783, in Wyandot County, Ohio. While investigation of 33Wy783 continues, excavations and lab analyses for 33Wy674 are complete. Identification and investigation of the sites was undertaken as a result of the U.S. Route 30 Relocation Project proposed by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Phase I and II investigations of the sites concluded they were potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and as a result, Phase III mitigation efforts were recommended. This article presents a preliminary report of investigations and interpretations regarding 33Wy674.

Site 33Wy674 is located in a cultivated field approximately 11 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of the city of Upper Sandusky, in Antrim Township, Wyandot County, Ohio. The site is situated on a broad glacial rise 350 meters northeast of Broken Sword Creek, although a tributary of this drainage is located within 200 meters of the site. The area, classified within the Central Lowland Physiographic province, is situated in the Glacial Lake Plain characterized by relatively low relief. This zone is broken by only beach ridges and limited high ground adjacent to the drainages. Native forests in the region would have been characterized by Beech, Elm-Ash Swamp, and Oak-Sugar Maple (Gordon 1966), having changed from the Spruce conifer-forests common in earlier post-glacial times (Shane 1994).

Previous Investigation

Site 33Wy674 was identified as a lithic scatter during the Phase I survey conducted by ASC Group. Twelve artifacts were recovered including debitage, a Late Archaic Brewerton Side-Notched projectile point, another projectile point fragment, and a modified lithic fragment (Whitman et al. 1996:83-84). The lithic artifacts were collected from an area recorded as 35 (N-S) by 420 (E-W) meters. Despite the paucity of artifacts, the site was recommended for further work due to its position near a former glacial lake (Whitman et al. 1996:84).

Phase II investigations of Site 33Wy674 took place in early 1995 (Whitman et al. 1995) again by ASC Group. Phase II investigations began with an intensive surface survey effort, operationalized within a five-meter grid system across the entire site. Out of 1,350 such collection units, 99 artifacts were recovered from a total of 75 units. The distribution of the artifacts suggested that the western sub-rise was most intensively occupied, producing 85% (n=84) of the artifact assemblage. The central and eastern sub-rises were determined to represent separate components and assigned new OAI numbers, 33Wy1141 and 33Wy1142 respectively. The western sub-rise, maintained as Site 33Wy674, was targeted for further sub-surface investigation.

A total of 400 square meters (4.6% of the site) was stripped in the form of six units/trenches. While few artifacts were recovered, the excavations disclosed two cultural features below the plow zone. Feature 1 was concluded to be an historic postmold, probably associated with a fencerow along the lane located at the southern boundary of the site. While Feature 2 represented a natural tree/root stain, Feature 3 represented a prehistoric pit feature measuring 116 cm N- S by 132 cm E-W, and a depth of 21 cm from interface. The feature was cross-sectioned and profiled, but the northern portion of the feature remained unexcavated. While the feature did not produce any diagnostic artifacts, specimens of fire-cracked rock, charcoal, and nutshell were recovered. A charcoal sample from the feature produced an uncalibrated date of 3110±150 B.P. (Whitman et al. 1995:69) and was interpreted as a Late Archaic pit feature.

Following Phase II testing, at least two separate components were suggested for the site, an Early Archaic component based on the Lake Erie Bifurcated Base projectile point and a Late Archaic component represented by the Brewerton Side-Notched and Brewerton Ear-Notched projectile points. The Late Archaic component is further evidenced by three unidentified stemmed projectile point fragments and the radiocarbon determination from the pit feature. An autumn occupation was suggested based on wood charcoal and the presence of nutshell.

Phase III Excavations

With the size and dimensions of Site 33Wy674 accurately defined by an intensive surface survey during the Phase II investigations, Phase III efforts focused on data recovery. From October to December 1999, Midwest Environmental Consultants, Inc. stripped 2,033 square meters at the site (Figure 1). Based on the dimensions previously recorded (Whitman et al. 1995), this represents approximately 24% of the site area. Excavation methodology combined the use of mechanical stripping to open large areas with hand excavated units to control for artifacts in the plow zone.

Figure 1. Excavation Plan of Site 33Wy674.
Figure 1. Excavation Plan of Site 33Wy674.


Mechanical excavation removed the plowzone to within approximately 3-5 cm of interface, after which the units were shovel-scraped to reveal potential features. The hand- excavated units, totaling 50 square meters, were shovel- excavated in quarter sections and the plow zone was screened.

A total of 14 cultural features were identified during the Phase III investigation. While seven were representative of historic post molds paralleling the two-track lane, the remaining features represent prehistoric pit features and one post mold. Although most of these features did not contain temporally/culturally diagnostic artifacts, most produced lithic debitage, fire-cracked rock, charcoal, and/or botanical remains (Table 1). One feature (Trench 4/F.1) did however produce ceramic material. An intrusive feature (Trench 1/F.4a) was also identified within the pit feature profiled during Phase II excavations by ASC Group.

Table 1. Feature Summary for 33Wy674.

Trench 1/F.2 28 x 28 x 20 lithic debitage, FCR, charcoal, botanical  
Trench 1/F.4 116 x 132 x 20 lithic debitage, FCR, charcoal, botanical 3110±150 B.P.(ASC Date)
2790±60 B.P.(GX-26430)
Trench 1/F.4a 59 x 47 x 18 lithic debitage, FCR, charcoal 2580±40 B.P.(Beta-139240)
Trench 4/F.1 124 x 120 x 20 lithic debitage, charcoal, botanical, ceramic 2060±70 B.P.(GX-26431)
2010±60 B.P.(Beta-139241)
Trench 5/F.1 34 x 40 x 15 lithic debitage, FCR, charcoal, botanical  
Trench 5/F.2 34 x 37 x 10 lithic debitage, charcoal, botanical  
N4E19/F.2 25 x 22 x 34 lithic debitage, FCR, charcoal, botanical  
* Uncalibrated radiocarbon date.

Lithic Assemblage

Phase III investigation of Site 33Wy674 yielded a lithic assemblage composed of 197 specimens, not including fire- cracked rock. Chert types represented within the assemblage include Delaware, Cedarville-Guelph, Upper Mercer, Flint Ridge, Dundee, Onondaga, and Pipe Creek. In addition, specimens of slate, quartz, and granite were present within the assemblage. Approximately 12% (n=25) of the lithic assemblage is represented by those cherts which are not locally available, such as Upper Mercer, Flint Ridge and Onondaga. As most of the lithic assemblage was recovered from plowzone contexts, further discussion of chert type distribution is not warranted due to the multicomponent nature of the site. However, one observation can be made with respect to lithic debitage recovered from feature contexts. Trench 1/Feature 2 is the only feature which contains exclusively non-local cherts, Flint Ridge and Upper Mercer. All other pit features at the site contain chert from locally available sources, Delaware and Cedarville-Guelph.

Lithic tools recovered include a projectile point mid-shaft of Flint Ridge (Figure 2:lower right), a fragmented projectile point base of Cedarville-Guelph, a beveled projectile point mid-shaft fragment of Onondaga (Figure 2:lower left), an unidentified basal fragment of Delaware chert, a biface tip of Cedarville-Guelph (Figure 2:upper right), and a corner notched base of Flint Ridge chalcedony (Figure 2:upper right). None of the projectile point fragments were complete enough to clearly identify point type. In addition, the chipped stone assemblage included re-touched primary flakes, two re-touched secondary flakes, one re-touched shatter specimen, and a bifacial end-scraper.

Figure 2. Diagnostic Artifacts from Phase III Excavations Plan at 33Wy674.
Figure 2. Diagnostic Artifacts from Phase III Excavations Plan at 33Wy674.


A total of 46 specimens of fire-cracked rock were recovered from feature contexts, totaling 14.2 kilograms. The fire- cracked rock assemblage contained granitic and sedimentary rock fragments. Of note, Trench 4/Feature 1 contained three large specimens of fire-cracked rock totaling 6.8 kg.

Ceramic Assemblage

Ceramic material was recovered from one feature, Feature 1 in Trench 4. The feature contained two rimsherds, seven bodysherds, and one unanalyzable sherdlet. All the ceramic sherds are grit tempered. The bodysherds are all plain smoothed, with a maximum thickness of 10mm, a minimum thickness of 8 mm, and a mean thickness of 8.75 mm. The two rimsherds (Figure 2:upper left) represent a single vessel, and are also smoothed on the vessel exterior, lip, and interior (Figure 2).No decoration is exhibited on the vessel. The vessel is however, represented by a collar measuring 24.2 mm in height and 8mm in thickness.

Botanical Remains

During the excavation of Site 33Wy674, a three-liter soil sample was collected from each feature. The samples were floated in MEC laboratory facilities and sent to Paleobot at the University of Toronto for identification and analysis. Table 2 illustrates the qualitative and quantitative paleobotanical data.

Table 2: Floral Remains Recovered From Feature Contexts (grams).

Tr. 1/F.2 0.41 0.06   0.01 <0.01 <0.01  
Tr. 1/F.4       0.01      
Tr. 4/F.1 0.04 0.03 0.04 0.01     0.01
Tr. 5/F.1 0.45 0.21   35.6     0.11
Tr. 5/F.2 0.04 <0.01   0.25      
N4E19/F.2   <0.01         0.01

Every prehistoric cultural feature identified contained a small amount of botanical remains. Of note, five of the features contained various amounts of black walnut (Juglans nigra), and one contained a single pin cherry seed (Prunus Pennsylvanicus). No cultigens were identified in the botanical sample (Ounjian 2000b). Both black walnut and pin cherry are available in the late summer and fall months, although both may be dried and stored for long periods. The carbonized bark and wood charcoal recovered from features, as well as the grass stem and tree bud, were too fragmented to identify to species.

Radiocarbon Dates

One radiocarbon date was obtained from the Phase II investigations of 33Wy674. As mentioned, a pit feature was dated to 3110±150 B.P. (Whitman et al. 1995). During the Phase III investigations, the remaining half of the same feature was excavated and a second sample submitted for radiocarbon dating. An uncalibrated date of 2790±60 B.P. (GX-26430) was received. At the two sigma limits, the two dates overlap, placing them during the transitional Late Archaic/Early Woodland period.

A carbon sample was also recovered from the intrusive feature (Feature 4a) within Trench 1/Feature 4 and submitted. An uncalibrated AMS dated of 2580±40 B.P. (Beta-139240) with a calibrated intercept of 794 B.C.

Two samples were also submitted from the feature (Trench 4/Feature 1) containing ceramics, one sample to Geochron and one sample to Beta Analytic. The Geochron sample dates to 2060±70 B.P. (GX-26431), with a calibrated intercept of 50 B.C. The Beta sample dates to 2010±60 B.P. (Beta-139241) with a calibrated intercept between 36 B.C. and A.D. 1.

Table 3: Radiocarbon Dates From 33Wy674.

Tr. 1/F.4 (unk. ASC) 3110±150 1160±150 1401 1131-1521 B.C.
Tr. 1/F.4 GX-26430 2790±60 840±60 966/964/921 837-1003 BC
Tr. 1/F.4a Beta-139240 2580±40 630±40 794 765-801 BC
Tr. 4/F.1 GX-26431 2060±70 110±70 50 3-165 BC
Tr. 4/F.1 Beta-139241 2010±60 60±60 36/18/1 61 BC - AD 68


Site 33Wy674 produced evidence of at least four occupations, an Early Archaic, a Late Archaic, a transitional Late Archaic/Early Woodland, and Late Woodland components. While the Early and Late Archaic components are represented by diagnostic projectile points from plowzone contexts, the major component is argued to represent a transitional Late Archaic/Early Woodland extractive campsite. The radiocarbon assemblage would indicate the site was repetitively utilized during the transitional Late Archiac/Early Woodland time period. The intrusive feature is further evidence of site re-occupation. The presence of burned nutshell in five pit features may suggest utilization of the site primarily during the fall.

The ceramic vessel from Trench 1/Feature 1 is suggested to represent plain ware from a local Late Woodland manifestation, based on the presence of a vessel collar. The ceramic vessel rimsherds are analogous to contemporaneous wares, such as Vase Plain of the Western Basin Tradition of northwest and northcentral Ohio (Stothers 1995; Stothers et al. 1994), Peters Plain of the Peters Phase of south central Ohio (Prufer and McKenzie 1966; Prufer 1967), and Cole Plain of the 'Cole Tradition' (Baby and Potter 1965) of central Ohio. At least three scenarios may explain the fact that the Late Woodland ceramics were recovered from a feature represented by two Early Woodland dates. Either, the Late Woodland ceramics represent secondary deposit into a feature of Early Woodland origin, wood from Early Woodland times was used by Late Woodland people at the site, or the dates are incorrect and the feature is Late Woodland in origin. While the latter two scenarios seem unlikely, it is suggested that the ceramics are most likely to be intrusive.

References Cited

Baby, Raymond S. and Martha A. Potter
 1965  The Cole Complex: A Preliminary Analysis of the Late Woodland Ceramics in Ohio and their Relationship to the Ohio Hopewell Phase. Ohio Hist. Soc. Papers in Archaeology, No. 2. Columbus.

Gordon, Robert B.
 1966  Map-Natural Vegetation of Ohio at the Time of the Earliest Land Surveys. Ohio Biological Survey, Columbus.

Ounjian, G. L.
 2000a  Site 33Wy674, Sample Inventory of Plant Remains. Unpublished Report on File, Midwest Environmental Consultants, Inc.

 2000b  Paleoethnobotanical Report for Site 33Wy674, Wyandot County, Ohio. Unpublished Report on File, Midwest Environmental Consultants, Inc.

Prufer, Olaf H.
 1967  Chesser Cave: A late Woodland Phase in Southeastern Ohio. In Studies in Ohio Archaeology, edited by O. Prufer and D. McKenszie, pp. 1-62. The Press of Western Reserve University, Cleveland.

Prufer, Olaf H. and Douglas H. McKenzie
 1966  Peters Cave: Two Woodland Occupations in Ross County, Ohio. Ohio Journal of Science 66(3):203-206.

Shane, Linda C.K.
 1994  Intensity and Rate of Vegetation and Climatic Change in the Ohio Region Between 14,000 and 9,000 14C YBP. In The First Discovery of America: Archaeological Evidence of the Early Inhabitants of the Ohio Area, edited by W.S. Dancy, pp. 7-22. Ohio Archaeological Council, Columbus.

Stothers, David M.
 1995  The "Michigan Owasco" and the Iroquois Co-Tradition: Late Woodland Conflict, Conquest, and Cultural Realignment in the Western Lower Great Lakes. Northeast Anthropology 49:5-41.

Stothers, David M., James R. Graves, Susan K. Bechtel, and Timothy J. Abel
 1994  Current Perspectives on the Late Prehistory of the Western Lake Erie Region and a Reply to Murphy and Ferris. Archaeology of Eastern North America 22:135-196.

Stuiver, M and P.J. Reimer
 1993  Extended 14C Database and Revised Calib 3.0 14C Age Calibration Program. Radiocarbon 35:215-230.

Whitman, L. G., D. Blanton, A. Epperson and L. O'Donnell
 1995  Phase II Site Evaluation Studies of Nine Prehistoric Archaeological Sites, Five Historic Archaeological Sites, and One Architectural Location to be Impacted by the Proposed Limited Access Right-of-Way of the U.S. Route 30 Relocation Project in Wyandot and Crawford Counties, Ohio(WYA/CRA-030-14.86/0.00, PID#10289). MS on file, OHPO.

Whitman, L. G., D. Dobson-Brown, C. E. Jackson, J. G. Ellis, M. Nickerson, L. O'Donnell, and C. L. Reustle
 1996  A Reconnaissance Survey for the U.S. Route 30 Relocation in Crane, Eden, Pitt and Antrim Townships, Wyandot County, and Tod, Holmes, Dallas and Bucyrus Townships, Crawford County, Ohio(WYA/CRA-030-14.86/0.00, PID#10289). MS on file, OHPO.