The Early Mississippian Period Peoples of the Southeast Missouri Region

2529 words (10 pages) Essay in Anthropology

23/09/19 Anthropology Reference this

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Question 1: Describe the purpose of your research. What will be the focus of your investigation? What is your main research question? What other questions will you need to answer to address it? [Limit: 1000 words]

This project will present the existing evidence for the presence of paleolithic tribes in the southeast region of Missouri and the historical significance of a people that may have pre-dated the Cahokia Mound Builders of the Ohio River Valley. This project aims to examine why the prehistoric Indians would have settled along what is now known as the Sac-Osage River just outside the town of Stockton, MO; how long they lived in the area; and the seemingly forgotten historical presence of an established and successful Indian settlement of this region, pre-Cahokia.

Driven by three primary concerns, I will first study how and where the previously discovered artifacts were discovered and excavated, if there are more discovered sites in the area, and the current research available. Second, information on the geographical formations, natural resources, and climate of the region will be gathered to determine why this area was inhabited for such an extended period. Third will be to determine the possible historical significance of the people that lived in this region as it pertains to the archaeological record.

Thus, I ask: How, where, and in what context were the first documented artifacts in the area of study discovered? Who conducted the initial research, why research was determined to be necessary, and what entity funded the initial excavations? Is there more evidence of large group settlements in nearby areas and if so, what are the barriers to further research of the sites? How long was this area inhabited by pre-historic Indians? What historical significance would the settlement of this region hold on current beliefs of the continuity of prehistory in the region and time periods? Through a structured visual, contextual, and discursive investigation this research will address these questions through an investigation of the Big Eddy archaeological site, historical documentation and research available, and the geographical analysis of southeastern Missouri.

 

 

 

Question 2: How does your research draw inspiration from existing scholarship in anthropology and other disciplines? Whose findings will you be building on? Give specific examples of the various lines of work with which you are in dialogue and which you are seeking to advance. [Limit: 1000 words]

In the 1940s, Jimmy Allen of Cody, Wyoming, began investigating an area along the Sac River for the purposes of obtaining artifacts for commercial sale (Nichols et al. 1980). Professional archaeological surveys in the area began in 1961 with the investigation of the area that would be affected by the building of the Stockton Dam to create Stockton Lake. Preliminary investigations conducted by the University of Missouri, under contract to the National Park Service, located a total of 40 sites with various artifacts, nine of which contained ceramic artifacts. Test excavations at three of the mounds and three shelters, between 1962 and 1965, showed a general similarity with other burial mounds discovered in southwestern Missouri (Wood 1965, 1966; Wood and Brock 1985). However, the mounds located along the Sac River were separated from the southwestern mounds due to the increased quality of limestone tempered ceramics and the presence of charred seeds, Cupp points, siltstone pipes, and distinctive bone spatulates (Wood and Brock 1985: 166). Investigations of the Sac River area continued until 1967 (Calabrese et al. 1969; Wood 1965, 1966) that further defined the local cultural sequence and defined the burial complex, officially named the Bolivar Burial Complex (Wood and Brock 1984). Investigation of three floodplain sites – Dryocopus Village, Flycatcher (Calabrese et al. 1968, 1969; Pangborn et al. 1971) and Shady Grove (Ward 1968) – in the area produced information on the discovered sites spanning the transition from Woodland to Mississippian Culture.

In June of 1979, Espey Houston and Associates, Inc., surveyed COE-controlled lands along the Sac River, downstream from the dam (Roper 1977). This survey covered about 45% of the Sac River Valley. A total of 280 acres were surveyed for prehistoric and historic resources. Fourteen sites were located that included eight historic sites, five prehistoric sites, and one site with both historic and prehistoric artifacts. However, only one site produced a diagnostic artifact that was assigned to the Woodland period. It was determined that as the elevation of the setting lowered within the lake area, the higher the probability of locating a site. Cultural components identified included Dalton, Middle Archaic, Late Archaic, Early Woodland, and Middle/Late Woodland periods. However, since none of these new sites produced pottery, only arrow points, they could be either Woodland or Mississippian in affiliation. Testing was recommended at two of the prehistoric sites that were endangered by heavy public use. One of which, the Fox House site, represented the oldest known homesite in the area. Six other potential house sites and a cemetery were also recommended as being potentially significant historic sites in the Stockton Lake area (Nichols et al. 1980). Roper (1977:97-99) concluded that the Sac River Valley had been mostly continuously occupied since the Dalton period but had been used by different cultures resulting in different uses of the sites.

The most recent excavations in the Sac River Valley were conducted in 1990-91 by the Historic Preservation Associates (Klinger et al. 1992). Text excavations were performed at seven sites all located along the Sac River, downstream from the dam, and were subject to river bank erosion. Excavations produced artifacts from periods as mentioned earlier, but most notably was a Dalton point and a Dalton Serrated point, recovered from the river bed, which was suggestive of early occupation, but no evidence of a Dalton component was recovered to support this theory further. All sited failed to produce enough evidence to assign specific cultural affiliations. Many sites along the edge of the river produced evidence of severely mixed and probably redeposited prehistoric and historic materials. Of the seven most recent sites investigated, three were determined to contain enough data to potentially make them eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (Wood and Brock 1985; Pangborn et al. 1971).

Question 3: What evidence will you need to collect to answer your research question? How will you go about collecting and analyzing this evidence? [Limits: 1000 words]

The fundamental component of this project will be to survey the project area and test nearby sites known to have produced significant artifacts. The field survey will consist of an intensive ground survey of the project area, which is located on the Mutton Creek branch of Stockton Lake and will include the previously discovered sites located on the southeastern shoreline. A land survey will take advantage of exposed soils such as plowed fields, cut banks, animal burrows, and other disturbances which provide the best situations for site discovery. In areas where there are no obvious or visible soil disturbances or where the ground surface is not adequate to determine the presence/absence of cultural resources, shovel testing will be utilized.

Underwater survey of the Mutton Creek branch will be a necessary component of this research as this is the area where the burial mounds, previously mentioned, were discovered. Underwater surveys will be initially conducted using a John Boat and a fish finder radar device in an area that reaches depths of between 50-90 feet deep. Once the presence of possible sites is located, a side-scan sonar device will be used to analyze the surface area of the lake bottom further and narrow the search for sites. Upon the discovery of adequate evidence for a site, a sub-bottom profiler will be utilized to gather under surface data of the site. All data will then be analyzed, and a determination will be made as to whether there is enough evidence to assemble a scuba team to perform test excavations at the underwater sites.

Investigation of the Mutton Creek area will take two seasons. The first season will consist of a geophysical survey of the Mutton Creek shoreline and underwater scanning. Investigations will be limited to COE property. Interviews with local artifact collectors familiar with the Stockton Project and Mutton Creek areas and familiar with the sites previously tested or located within the project boundaries will be conducted, and a literature and records review will be conducted to determine if cultural properties were known to exist in any of the areas to be surveyed. The second season will consist of extensive land site excavations and diving for survey and excavation of underwater sites.

Budget Justification: ($20,000)

$1,872.00: Travel and Lodging: Because the Mutton Creek, Stockton Lake area of interest is rural, my research will require travel to location and lodging near the site. Mutton Creek will allow camp reservation for five weeks, and has campsites located within a 10-minute walk/ 5-minute drive to shoreline.

$5,344.00: Food and drink for undergraduate/graduate students during the two five-week seasons of field investigation.

~ Underwater survey of the area will require specialized equipment:

$826.00: Rental of Tritech StarFish 990F side scan sonar system for one week each season

$840.00: Rental of Trimble Kenai rugged Windows 10 tablet computer for one week each season

$1,500.00: EdgeTech 216s Chirp Sub-Bottom Profiling System for one week each season

$2,520.00: 2 Alum 80 Nitrox Tanks, BCD, Regulator/ Compass/ Gauge, Mask, Fins, Snorkel, Wetsuit, Inflatable Safety Marker for one week each season for two divers.

$7,098.00: Rental of Stratos 258 Bass Boat

This survey equipment cannot be obtained from my institution because neither the department nor the college has equipment to loan out for graduate work. Further, the equipment that is available on site is not of the quality that this project requires. The local community has a Historical Society that is willing to donate all tools needed for excavation purposes. There are also local archaeological enthusiasts that have offered their volunteer assistance if needed.

Question 4: How have you prepared yourself to do this research? Describe your language competence, technical skills, previous research, and any other relevant experience. Describe any work you have already done on this project and how this research relates to other research you have done. You may be working with academic collaborators, if so, please describe their role in this project and how it will relate to yours. [Limit: 1000 words]

My primary training for this research stems from my two years of coursework within anthropology at one of the leading anthropology graduate programs in the United States. During this time took classes on a broad range of anthropological topics including Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Archaeological Field School, Anthropological Method and Theory, Anthropology of Hunters and Gatherers, Rise of Early Civilization, and Osteology.

My background in visual communication, both academic and technical, has prepared me to use video and photographic equipment as my primary recording method for this project. In addition to my ten years of technical and academic training in art photography and photojournalism, I have taught community and youth classes in manual camera, black and white darkroom techniques, and documentary video.

In May-August 2004, and again for several weeks in December 2004 and February 2005, I assisted Stockton area law enforcement with underwater searches for ongoing investigations. This required me to obtain my SCUBA certification and has provided me with a significant amount of experience diving in the Stockton Lake. I am familiar with the lake water conditions and seasonal tourist activity of the Stockton Lake area. My familiarity of the research area will be of vital importance when conducting underwater research during the summer seasons as this is a tourist hotspot and there is a significant about of boating and fishing activity to the north of the Mutton Creek branch.

Question 5: What contribution will your project make to anthropological theory? Please note that the Foundation’s mission is to support innovative research in anthropology. We are interested in supporting work that does more than simply add to an existing body of knowledge. Describe how your project will bring new insights to the field as a whole. [Limit: 500 words]

My contribution to anthropological theory will be to use approaches from archaeology, science, geography, and technology to identify the indigenous identity, prehistoric significance better, and attempt to further current limited knowledge on the ways of life of Paleoindian people. The approach that I will use is of archaeology as a science. That is, archaeology has traditionally have been seen as a branch of history, focused on the explanation of the past and the gathering of data to collect site-specific assemblages.

Archaeology in Missouri has typically been interpreted through the archaeological discoveries in western Kansas City (Johnson 1974), northeastern Missouri (Logan 1952; Klippel 1971; Shippe 1957, 1966; O’Brien and Warren 1979), and in the Ozark Highlands (McMillan 1976b; Kay 1982a, 1982b; Roper 1981). By conducting thorough research in the Stockton Lake area, vital information on the prehistoric cultures of the southwestern Missouri region will be gained.

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