HSSC Archaeology Fieldwork Update May-June 2014

The 2014 field season has gotten off to a bit of a slow start as we have yet to put a shovel in the ground. We have, however, managed to spend a few days conducting surface surveys and monitoring previously documented sites along the Shiawassee and Tittabawassee Rivers in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Ken Kosidlo and I surveyed a roughly 30 acre agricultural field located near the Shiawassee River and can say with confidence that most of the area contains no significant cultural resources! We did find a small scatter of approximately 20 fire-cracked rocks (FCR), one Bayport chert flake, and a tiny bipolar core made on Pebble/Bayport chert along one edge of the field. This will likely be a newly recorded site for the county.

We also surveyed 10-15 acres of a nearby field in which a site (20SA315) had been previously recorded. We were hoping to better define the overall boundaries of the site and map the locations of artifacts and artifact clusters across the site. We relocated the site but, unfortunately, when we returned after a couple of days absence, we found that the field had been planted and we were unable to complete our survey. Determining the site boundaries will have to wait for another day. In the portion of the site we were able to cover there were numerous small grit-tempered ceramic sherds, animal bone fragments, FCR, several Bayport chert flakes, a few bipolar cores, and one biface.

The ceramics appear, for the most part, to date to the Late Woodland period, though the small size of most of the sherds makes any temporal assessment difficult. The rimsherd on the left side of the photograph (showing the exterior, interior, profile, and top of lip) has a cord-roughened exterior surface and is decorated with cord-wrapped stick impressions on the interior and top of the lip and on the exterior of the rim. The lower rim/neck sherd on the upper right of the photo has a smooth exterior decorated with S-shaped tool impressions. A body sherd (not shown), apparently from this vessel, exhibits a cord-roughened exterior. The rim/neck sherd on the lower right portion of the photo has a cord-roughened exterior and is decorated with cord-wrapped stick impressions.

 Late Woodland Ceramics from 20SA315.

Late Woodland Ceramics from 20SA315.

The biface from 20SA315 is a fairly large, triangular knife made of Bayport chert. The non-symmetrical shape of the blade is due to re-sharpening. The blade narrows approximately 1/3rd of the way up from the base. This indicates that the blade was re-sharpened while still attached to a haft/handle. The wide lower portion of the blade was covered by the haft and not subject to the process of re-sharpening. Though small triangular projectile points (arrowheads) are usually diagnostic of the Late Woodland period, larger bifaces like this example could date to any time within the Late Archaic through Late Woodland periods.

 Biface from 20SA315.

Biface from 20SA315.

Finally, I spent a couple of days monitoring previously recorded sites located along and between the Shiawassee and Tittabawassee Rivers within the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. I can report that local populations of poison ivy and mosquitoes are thriving! Most of the sites appear to have suffered only minor erosion from Spring flooding. At site 20SA1251, which previous work has shown to date primarily from the Middle to early Late Woodland periods, I recovered a bifacial knife/preform made of Bayport chert and a core made from what is either a variety of bedded Bayport chert or pebble chert.

 Biface and core from 20SA1251.

Biface and core from 20SA1251.

We are still planning on doing some testing at one or more sites in the Saginaw area this summer, so stay tuned for updates on when that work will take place.

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