Indian Knoll

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Indian Knoll
Nearest city Paradise, Kentucky
Area 290 acres (120 ha)
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 66000362[1]
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966

Indian Knoll is an archaeological site near Paradise, Kentucky that was declared to be a U.S. National Historic Landmark.[1]

Excavations of Indian Knoll during The Great Depression,[2]:115 and research of the remains and artifacts in the 1960s-1970s demonstrated that its builders were greatly atypical of inhabitants of Archaic sites.[3]:672 Archaic peoples were typically egalitarian,[3]:658 but burials at this knoll revealed that the inhabitants were divided into two social groups, irrespective of age or sex, as social class seems the most likely reason for this division.[3]:672

Background[edit]

The Indian Knoll site, designated 15OH2, is located in the Ohio Valley of west central Kentucky near Green River. This area is known as the "shell mound region" because of the large shell middens, or deposits of shell that were disposed of by the indigenous people that lived there.[2]:115 Though the is evidence of earlier settlement, this area was most heavily occupied from approximately 3000-2000 BC,[4]:396 when the climate and vegetation were nearing modern conditions. This floodplain provided a stable environment, which eventually led to agricultural development early in the late Holocene era.[4]:412 In the early 20th century Clarence Bloomfield Moore was the first to explore a small portion of the land not being used for agricultural purposes. After the farm that occupied the site was destroyed by a flood, the land was opened for further excavation by William Snyder Webb in 1939.[2]:115 The study of this site has contributed towards an understanding of the social complexity of the southeastern cultures of the mid-late Holocene era.

Excavations[edit]

The original excavation in 1915 was led by C.B. Moore and his crew of eight men. He was the first to report on the bannerstone at Indian Knoll and recover 298 individuals, 66 of which were well preserved and sent to the United States National Museum.[2]:127 After the flood in 1937, Webb and his team began a second excavation, leading to the discovery of 880 more burials.[2]:115 The Indian Knoll skeletal population was inadequately evaluated by Moore, so in 1960, the remains were reassessed by Francis Johnston and Charles Snow. From the skeletal fragments, they estimated there to be at least 1,234 individuals, rather than 1,178 reported between Moore and Webb.[5]:237 Johnston and Snow concluded that Indian Knoll had a high infant mortality rate, mostly only under one year, but also many under four.[5]:240 The average life span was about 18.5 years old, with slightly more male burials than female.[5]:241

Initial excavation[edit]

The 1939 excavations included trenches paralleling the Green River,[2]:125 which contained over 1000 burials, and evidence of ancient dwellings with clay flooring, six hearths,[2]:129 and what Webb noted as kitchen fireside tools, or artifacts such as hammerstones, grooved axes, pitted stones, mortars and pestles.[2]:129–130 There were also some 67,000 artifacts uncovered at Indian Knoll, some of which were carbon dated, and thought to be an average of about 5,300 years old.[2]:127 These dwellings are considered to be permanent occupations.[2]:130 The hearths were probably used for heating during the winter as well as cooking. The shell middens nearby contain not only the remains of the gastropod shells, but debris of animal bone and fire-cracked rock such as sandstone and river pebbles, probably used for cooking, boiling water, and processing walnuts, hickory nuts, and acorns.[2]:129

Burials and grave goods[edit]

The earlier graves at Indian Knoll were found down to five feet into the sand, with the more recent burials inside the shell midden. The deepest were better preserved as a result of the moist sand, even some of the bony tissues and infant skeletons remained intact.[2]:132 The grave structure was usually small, round, and filled in with black midden debris. The burials inside the midden showed no sign of formal walls, thus it is likely that individuals were placed in shallow depressions and filled in with the surrounding shell midden.[2]:134 Many of the skeletons placed in shallow graves, especially the skulls, were crushed and shown signs of disturbance.[2]:132 Most of the skeletons were found in tight coiled positions, which indicates the bodies may have been wrapped,[2]:135 though there are a few instances of being placed sitting up, with even less fully extended .[2]:145–147 The large number of burials caused graves to intrude into others accidentally,[2]:137–138 though multiple burials were common practice[2]:140 during the time the shell midden formed between the years 5500 and 2000 BC.[1] Multiple burials were also typically circular, but larger and lacked grave goods except for single projectile points near the chest cavities, which suggest violence near time of death.[2]:140 Many skeletons were found dismembered, either unintentionally or as an act of mutilation. If a grave happened to be dug intruding another, the original body may have become dismembered, but normally the bones would have been piled up and reburied.[2]:152 Occasionally pieces, such as skulls or limbs, were not recovered, which Robert Mensforth considered evidence for warfare and trophy taking.[6]:114 Grave goods were found within 187 burials,[2]:201 though shell beads, used for personal adornments or sewed on garments, were not counted as a deliberate grave goods in one study.[23] The artifacts commonly associated with graves include pestles, hammerstones, grooved axes, projectile points with a few cases of copper and stone vessels. There were 43 atlatl weights, also known as bannerstones for spear-thowers, associated with burials at Indian Knoll, and Webb's research focus when excavating this site to get more information on this particular grave good.[2]:159

Dog burials[edit]

There were 21 dog burials, 17 of which were well preserved. The graves of dogs were given the same attention as human graves, with nine examples of dogs buried with humans at Indian Knoll.[2]:155 The dogs within human burials were associated with women and children, as much as with men. These dogs were apparently killed at the time of their owner's death and placed on top, below their feet, or at their side.[2]:156 According to Cheryl Claassen, at least six out of the ten dogs with humans show possible evidence of a violent death. The position of the human skeleton in these cases was usually face down and devoid of artifacts. The only double dog and face down human burial occurs with a female child about the age of five.[7]:5 Claassen also suggest that these dogs were not only beloved pets, but had symbolic and ritual significance.[7]:7 A similar belief about the healing nature of dogs is seen across Native American myths.[7]:8 Some interpretations held by the Cherokee are that dogs are spiritual guides and judges, that symbolized morality and were considered sacred.[7]:9 Another possible meaning considered by Claassen is that dogs were used to represent warriors whose bodies were never retrieved from war. This has been speculated because there were male dogs in single burials.[7]:8

Social complexity[edit]

There are several indicators of long-distance contact with other Late Archaic groups present at the Indian Knoll site including exotic materials and signs of warfare. The social organization of Archaic cultures has been broadly stereotyped as being small band or tribal communities of hunter-gatherers, with few possessions and lacking permanent villages, food production, and pottery. These cultures typically determined social statuses by age, sex, and personal achievement, because there were little differences in wealth or possessions.[3]:658 Analysis of these artifacts and remains provide a better understanding of social organization during the late Archaic.[3]:666 Grave goods or tools were mainly associated men, but in this community women and children were with one or many artifacts. This suggests status was not restricted by age or sex, according to N. A. Rothschild.[3]:671 Some labor division is apparent, given the different types of artifacts commonly found among the two sexes. For example, men were buried with axes, stone and woodworking tools, fish hooks, and awls in contrast to the shells, bone beads and nut cracking stones usually found with females.[4]:413 The most abundant material found in graves were several types of shell, manufactured into a variety of forms, such as beads and buttons worn as personal adornments. Some of these species were not local, which could indicate wealth and status, and also shows evidence of long distant exchange networks with other Archaic cultures. The Busycon, Marginella, and Olivella shell species were imported from the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic coast, and were found at this site but rarely in burials which suggest they were probably considered valuable. A couple pieces of copper, another foreign material found at Indian Knoll, shows trade extending as far north as Lake Superior.[8]:257

Archaic trade networks took the form of what Claassen calls "down-the-line-transfer,"[8]:257 or resources and gifts were passed from village to village, rather than at large trade fairs.[4]:415 This informal exchange network seems more likely because it involved fewer individuals and had less influence over cultural traditions.[8]:257 By 2000 BC, regional variation in style of tools was visible, such as the variations in design and function of atlatl weights, or bannerstones used primarily to center the weight of a throwing stick. By this time, communities had well established control over territory and resources, causing an increase in tension and warfare. Relationships between neighbors are assumed to have had greater importance with the increases in exchange systems, and hunting or war parties.[4]:414 By 1000 BC status differentiation is noticeable in the grave goods.[4]:416 The degree of violence in the region is notable and many individuals showed signs of fatal injuries such as one scalping,[6]:118 a slit throat,[6]:120 and a skull smashed in.[6]:122 Also many had multiple puncture marks and fractured or missing bones, serving as evidence of warfare and trophy taking.[6]:110 Many of the dismembered bodies were missing skulls and limbs and were never recovered, indicating trophy taking. However, one trophy in the form of a human mandible was recovered from Indian Knoll. In all, it is estimated that the 12 incomplete skeletons may have presented as many as 34 human bone trophies to the opposing members.[6]:119 Most the injuries reported are caused from blunt force trauma, but were usually not fatal, suggesting well-defined rules to reduce death tolls for these organized war parties, rather than sporadic feuds.[6]:124–125

Pottery[edit]

Technological developments such as crude ceramics were developed by Archaic societies early during the late Holocene.[4]:422 A total of 792 shards of pottery were found at Indian Knoll. All of which were shell or grit tempered,[2]:356 mainly found within the first foot and a half of the mound, and closely relate to the later Mississippian culture's pottery.[2]:360 Most vessels had wide mouths and curved or flat bases, which were handmade by building up coils of clay.[4]:421 Pottery contributed to the exploitation and manipulation of wild plants, and more efficiency in food processing and water storage.[4]:422 The most common type of ceramics were shell tempered, representing 78.5% of the total pottery shards found at Indian Knoll, with only 171 grit tempered shards of bowls or jars discovered.[2]:356 Heavy grit tempered pottery appeared in different regions of the Eastern Woodlands, including Ohio Valley, between 2000-500 BC.[4]:421 The grit tempered ceramics that were found show plain and cord marked ware, as well as simple stamped grooved patterns.[2]:356–361 Several different finishes on shell tempered ceramics were also noted. Nine shards found in one were also cord marked, or tapped with a twisted fibers wrapped paddle, and three shards show signs of roughening, which were individually created by a rectangular object.[2]:360 Other shards show signs of net impressions caused by mesh fabrics, which is common in much of western Kentucky.[2]:359

Agriculture[edit]

The inhabitants of the Ohio Valley were complex hunter-gatherer societies who relied on food rich resources of the deciduous forest and floodplain, including both marine and terrestrial animals and plants. A constant crop of hickory nuts, acorns, roots, and seeds were utilized by the foragers of the area, as well as later domestication of squash in the Green River Region reveals an evident trend toward subsistence agriculture, though this has not been confirmed at Indian Knoll.[4]:412 This site was never fully excavated because of what Webb called, "difficulties arising from a shortage in the Works Progress Administration labor quota of the county," but little area was left unexplored.[2]:125 In 1966 Indian Knoll was designated a National Historic Landmark, and today the site lies within 290 acres of private agricultural fields.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Webb, William (1974). Indian Knoll. The University of Tennessee Press Knoxville. pp. 116–340. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Rothschild, Nan A. "Mortuary Behavior and Social Organization at Indian Knoll and Dickson Mounds". American Antiquity 44.4 (1979): 658-675.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Fagan, Brian (2005). Ancient North America. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. pp. 410–417. 
  5. ^ a b c Johnston, Francis; Snow, Charles (September 1961). "The Reassessment of the Age and Sex of the Indian Knoll Skeletal Populations: Demographical and Methodological Aspects". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 19 (3): 237–244. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330190304. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Mensforth, Robert (2001). Warfare and Trophy Taking in the Archaic Period. Kent State University Press: Archaic Transitions in Ohio and Kentucky Prehistory. pp. 110–134. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Claassen, Cheryl. "Archaic Rituals: Rebalancing with Dogs". Academia. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Claassen, Cheryl (1996). A Consideration of the Social Organization of the Shell Mound Archaic. University Press of Florida: Archaeology of the mid-Holocene southeast. pp. 235–258. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Claassen, Cheryl (1996). A Consideration of the Social Organization of the Shell Mound Archaic. University Press of Florida: Archaeology of the mid-Holocene southeast. pp. 235–258. 
  • Claassen, Cheryl. "Archaic Rituals: Rebalancing with Dogs". Academia. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  • Fagan, Brian (2005). Ancient North America. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. pp. 410–417. 
  • Haag, W.M.D. (1974). Pottery at Indian Knoll. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press. pp. 357–362. 
  • "Indian Knoll: Paradise, Kentucky". National Register of Historic Places. Find the best. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  • Johnston, Francis; Snow, Charles (September 1961). "The Reassessment of the Age and Sex of the Indian Knoll Skeletal Populations: Demographical and Methodological Aspects". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 19 (3): 237–244. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330190304. 
  • Mensforth, Robert (2001). Warfare and Trophy Taking in the Archaic Period. Kent State University Press: Archaic Transitions in Ohio and Kentucky Prehistory. pp. 110–134. 
  • Rothschild ., N.A (October 1979). "Mortuary Behavior and Social Organization at Indian Knoll and Dickson Mounds". American Antiquity 44 (4): 658–675. doi:10.2307/279105. 
  • Webb, William (1974). Indian Knoll. The University of Tennessee Press Knoxville. pp. 116–340. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Society for American Archaeology (October 1979). American Antiquity 44 (4).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • The Official Journal of the American Association of Physical Anthropologist (September 1961). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 19 (3).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Prufer, O. H., Peede S. E., Mindl R. S. (2001). Archaic Transitions in Ohio and Kentucky Prehistory. Kent, Oh: Kent State University Press. 
  • Sassaman, Kenneth and Anderson, David (1996). Archaeology of the mid-Holocene southeast. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. 
  • Webb, William (1974). Indian Knoll. The University of Tennessee Press Knoxville. 

External links[edit]