Palimpsests, Activities, and Archaeological Taxonomy: Implications from Late Plains Woodland Components (AD 500-1000) of the Hamon Site in Northeastern Kansas
Keehner, Steven Patrick
University of Kansas
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This thesis describes the results and interpretations of a multi-faceted analysis of Late Plains Woodland components (AD 500-1000) of the Hamon site (14JF350) in Jefferson County, northeastern Kansas. Methods included artifact analysis, newly obtained radiocarbon dates, a reconstructed spatial analysis of the original excavations, and a field survey to locate and define the site boundaries. The results reveal that the site was a palimpsest of occupations further disturbed by agricultural plowing. This is in contrast to the original interpretations, which were affected by the excavated materials having never been analyzed and low-resolution obstacles due to a multitude of excavation factors including weather, excavation boundaries, and not having reached culturally sterile subsoil. Activities represented by the material remains of the site occupants include lithic and ceramic production, with evidence for a possible open fire kiln, and inhumation of the deceased. The analysis also reveals that a revision of archaeological taxonomy is needed for several designation units in the Late Plains Woodland Period (AD 500-1000). The formal traits of artifacts from the Hamon site, and other sites used to define the Grasshopper Falls phase, are indiscernible from other defined Middle (AD 1-500) and Late Plains Woodland units and pottery wares/types in the region, including Valley, Loseke Creek, Held Creek, Sterns Creek, and Minotts. The ceramic assemblage from the Hamon site contains vessel forms, production techniques, and design motifs that are reflective of some of the above-mentioned wares/types, but might also be representative of Steed-Kisker ware. This study is an important addition to the knowledge of activities and adaptations of Late Woodland people in the central plains. I argue that a ceramic production event occurred at the Hamon site and that the inhabitants were in contact with other Late Plains Woodland groups in the region of the lower Missouri Valley. The latter is evident through similarities in material culture that are otherwise clouded by existing archaeological taxonomy. Future research can transcend the taxonomic obstacles to further reveal that more interaction and less isolation existed among Late Plains Woodland people occupying the greater region of the lower Missouri Valley in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa by looking to curated collections for comparative analysis.
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