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K-State Today

May 26, 2020

Archaeological interpretation of prehistoric site in Northeastern Kansas

Submitted by Brad Logan

Brad Logan, research associate professor emeritus in the sociology, anthropology, and social work department, published in the current volume of The Kansas Anthropologist results of an archaeological project for which he served as principal investigator.

"The Quixote Site: Late Woodland in Northeastern Kansas" presents results of excavations by the 2017 Kansas Archeological Training Program, a cooperative project of the Kansas Anthropological Association and Kansas Historical Society. The site, occupied during the Late Woodland period, A.D. 500-1000, is near Valley Falls, Kansas, in the Delaware River basin on property managed by the Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1988, while at the University of Kansas, Logan had evaluated the site's eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.

The article includes Logan's analyses of data that attest several times of site use. These include the spatial distribution of a variety of cultural material from a 64m2 block excavation, as well as stone tools and pottery therefrom. That area is interpreted as a palimpsest of dismantled hearths and related activity loci from 10th century A.D. occupations. Evidence of a different kind of activity during the seventh century A.D. consists of two large features that held hundreds of pounds of burned stones and copious amounts of charcoal. Both are interpreted as roasting pits. Lipid residue analyses of stone samples by colleagues from Brandon University, Manitoba, Canada identified traces of large herbivore, probably deer and fish. The pits were probably used during feasting events that served to forge bonds and mitigate resource insecurities among dispersed families of hunter-gatherer-gardeners.

Other specialized analyses include geophysical survey for subsurface features by Archaeo-Physics, LLC (Minnesota), zooarchaeological research by colleagues associated with Paleocultural Resource Group (Colorado) and Nebraska History, and archaeobotantical analyses by a paleoethnobotanist with the Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.