Alive and Kicking: New Excavation Data from the Late Prehistoric Madisonville Village and Cemetery Site (33Ha36), Southwestern Ohio

Matthew P. Purtill
Gray & Pape, Inc.

 In 2004 and 2005, Gray & Pape, Inc., investigated 167 sq. meters of land situated within the boundaries of the National Register-listed Madisonville Village and Cemetery site (33HA36).  Located just east of Cincinnati in the Village of Mariemont, the site represents the remains of a five-acre agricultural village occupied between A.D. 1000 and 1670, although post A.D. 1400 habitation was most intensive (Drooker 1997; Hooten and Willoughby 1920).  Historically, the site was excavated extensively between 1879 and 1911, primarily under of the auspices of Harvard's Peabody Museum.  Since 1911, several smaller scale excavations have been conducted, in addition to wide-spread amateur looting (Drooker 1997:112; Purtill 2000).

The 2004-05 investigations were conducted ahead of a sewer replacement project slated to impact a portion of the site.  Because the project was not a federal undertaking, preservation laws (e.g., National Historic Preservation Act) did not apply.  Gray & Pape's involvement was initiated at the bequest of the Village of Mariemont, which was concerned about potential impacts to the site.  The Metropolitan Sewer District funded the research.

The 2004-05 excavations were situated in the northwestern portion of the site.  This location roughly corresponds to Trenches II and III, excavated by J.R. Swanton in 1897 (Hooten and Willoughby 1920).  A more precise placement of the 2004-05 excavations has yet to be determined.  This area includes the western "arc" of what Drooker (1997) has argued represents a circular village pattern dating between A.D. 1400 and 1670.  

Figure 1: Plan view of 2005-04 excavations conducted by Gray & Pape, Inc.
Figure 1: Plan view of 2005-04 excavations conducted by Gray & Pape, Inc.


Preserved under nearly three feet of recent historic fill, Gray & Pape identified an array of features (n=44) and a large (and diverse) artifact assemblage from within the excavation trench area (Figures 1-3; Table 1).  Preliminary estimates indicate between 50,000 and 80,000 artifacts.  The assemblage includes chipped- and ground-stone tools, ceramic artifacts (Figure 4), bone and shell tools and ornaments, debitage, and European trade items (Figure 5).  A large faunal and floral assemblage also was recovered.  Based on diagnostic artifacts, most artifacts (and features) appear to date to the Madisonville Horizon (post A.D. 1400).

Figure 2:  Representative plan views and profiles of deep pit features identified during the 2004-05 investigations.
Figure 2: Representative plan views and profiles of deep pit features identified during the 2004-05 investigations.


Figure 3: Representative plan views and profiles of features and post molds identified during the 2004-05 investigations.
Figure 3: Representative plan views and profiles of features and post molds identified during the 2004-05 investigations.

 

Table 1. Descriptive Summary of Features Identified During 2004-05 Excavations

Feat. #

Feat. Type

Plan view Shape

Profile Type

L1 (cm)

L2 (cm)

D (cm)

Volume (liters)

Integrity

04-1

Burial

Oval

Shallow basin

160

52

6

-

Excavated

04-2

Hearth

Circular

Shallow basin

85

73

9

21.40

Intact

04-3

Pit?

Circular/

Oval

Shallow basin

60

45

7

7.29

Excavated?

04-5

Pit

Circular

Deep Basin

100

89

28

104.92

Excavated

04-6

Pit

Circular

Bell shaped

90

90

100

664.92

Partially Excavated

04-7

Pit

Circular

Straight sided

116

112

52

530.49

Intact

04-9

Pit

Circular/

Oval

Bell shaped

94

80

97

599.26

Intact

04-10/10a

Burial

Oval

Shallow basin

164

74

14

-

Partially Excavated/Excavated?

04-11

Pit?

Circular/

Oval

Shallow basin

72

60

8

13.27

Excavated?

04-12a

Pit

Circular

Bell shaped

108

106

99

802.07

Intact

04-14

Pit

Irregular

Deep Basin

?

92

26

-

Excavated?

04-16

Pit

Oval

Irregular, Expanding and Straight Sided

186

112

94

1638.21

Partially Excavated

04-18

Pit

Oval

Shallow basin

?

114

10

-

Partially Excavated

04-19

Pit

Circular

Deep Basin

104

94

32

134.33

Intact

04-19a

Pit

Circular

Deep Basin

100

90

32

124.98

Intact

04-19b

Post mold

Circular

Shallow basin

9

8

?

-

Intact

04-20

Midden

-

Irregular

?

?

?

-

Excavated

04-21

Pit

Circular

Deep Basin

130

120

36

235.05

Excavated?

04-21a

Pit

Circular

Deep Basin

90

88

26

86.42

Excavated?

04-21c

Pit

?

Shallow basin

?

?

16

-

Excavated?

04-22

Pit

Circular

Straight sided

140

140

112

1723.23

Excavated?

04-23

Pit

Circular

Deep Basin

?

126

90

-

Intact?

04-24

Pit?

?

?

?

126

?

?

?

(not excavated, preserved in place)

04-25

Pit

Oval

Irregular, Expanding and Contracting

98

82

46

292.49

Intact

04-26

Pit?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

(not excavated, preserved in place)

04-30

Post mold

Circular

Pointed

15

15

12

-

Intact

04-31

Post mold

Circular

Pointed

8

8

5

-

Intact

04-33

Post mold

Circular

Shallow basin

13

12

4

-

Intact

04-34

Post mold

Circular

Shallow basin

13

13

6

-

Intact

04-37

Post mold

Circular

Straight sided

23

21

48

-

Intact

04-39

Post mold

Circular

Shallow basin

18

?

17

-

Intact

04-47

Post mold

Circular

Pointed

11

10

17

-

Intact

04-47a

Post mold

Oval

Pointed

16

12

13

-

Intact

04-49

Post mold

Oval

Pointed

13

9

8

-

Intact

04-50

Post mold

Circular

Pointed

18

17

23

-

Intact

04-51

Post mold

Circular

Pointed

12

11

18

-

Intact

04-52

Pit?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

(not excavated, preserved in place)

04-53

Post mold

Oval

Pointed

14

12

20

-

Intact

04-57

Post mold

Oval

Pointed

14

14

10

-

Intact

04-58

Post mold

Circular

Shallow basin

10

8

9

-

Intact

04-60

Post mold

Oval

Pointed

14

11

9

-

Intact

04-61

Post mold

Oval

Shallow basin

17

16

10

-

Intact

04-63

Pit

Oval

Shallow basin

76

64

24

50.93

Intact

04-65

Pit

Circular

Deep Basin

?

98

46

?

Intact

 

Figure 4: Partially reconstructed portion of a Madisonville Grooved Paddle jar recovered from Feature 04-19a.
Figure 4: Partially reconstructed portion of a Madisonville Grooved Paddle jar recovered from Feature 04-19a.

 

Figure 5:  European copper clip recovered from Feature 04-25.
Figure 5: European copper clip recovered from Feature 04-25.

 

The 2004-05 investigations identified that, although Hooten and Willoughby's 1920 site map suggests complete excavation of the area, intact, and partially intact, deposits survive to this day (see also Purtill 2000).  Excavation revealed that several of the features had not been previously disturbed (i.e., excavated).  In addition, several features characterized by blocky clay subsoil mottling in the upper levels--but more homogenous, horizontally banded, soils at lower levels--suggest only partial excavation (Figure 6).  If this interpretation is accurate, then Swanton's crews were selective in their excavation techniques, perhaps abandoning pit features that were not yielding "good stuff" early on.  Comparison of feature contents between hypothesized 'excavated' and 'intact' contexts are planned with the hope that additional clues as to feature integrity will be gained.

Figure 6:  Profile view of Feature 04-12a showing levels of previous disturbance and intact layers.
Figure 6: Profile view of Feature 04-12a showing levels of previous disturbance and intact layers.


In conclusion, the 2004-05 excavations at Madisonville are revealing that significant portions of the site still retain significant, often intact, archaeological deposits.  Future studies of the artifacts, features, and the spatial relationships between them, promise to provide new views into site organization and history.


References Cited

Drooker, Penelope B.
1997    The View from Madisonville: Protohistoric Western Fort Ancient Interaction Patterns.  Memoirs of The Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Number 31.  Ann Arbor.

Hooten, Earnest A., and Charles C. Willoughby
1920    Indian Village Site and Cemetery near Madisonville Ohio.  Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. 8, No. 1. Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Purtill, Matthew P.
2000 A Paradoxical Circumstance: Recent Happenings and Archaeological Investigations at the Famed Madisonville Site.  Electronic document, http://ohioarchaeology.org/purtill_10_2000.html, accessed November 12, 2005.   Ohio Archaeological Council website publications.

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