Presentation Title

An Investigation of the Relationship Between Surface and Subsurface Distribution of Cultural Artifacts

Presenter Information

Denay GrundFollow

Advisor Information

Alan Osborn

Location

Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library

Presentation Type

Poster

Start Date

2-3-2018 12:30 PM

End Date

2-3-2018 1:45 PM

Abstract

Archaeologists have frequently assumed that artifacts found on the surface of archaeological sites represent both the variety and spatial distribution of archaeological materials that lay beneath the surface. For example, at the Hatchery West Site in Illinois, the surface distribution of various kinds of stone tools, potsherds, and burned rock were used to define prehistoric, sub-surface activity areas, house floors, and hearths. Our study examines the nature of the interrelationship between artifacts from the surface and excavations at a prehistoric house located at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Glacier Creek Preserve near Bennington, Nebraska. Systematic surface collections, as well as test excavations, were carried out by archaeological field schools in 2016 and 2017. The content variation of the surface versus the subsurface collections were then compared statistically. Spatial distribution maps or overlays were used to define the spatial locations of surface artifacts with respect to artifacts collected in the subsurface excavations. In this case, both the surface and subsurface artifact collections were statistically different. In contrast, surface overlays comparing surface artifact distributions versus subsurface features revealed that subsurface features, including soil color and textural changes, scatters of charcoal, and burned earth were, in fact, located within the boundaries of the surface scatter of artifacts. Although subsurface features were located within the surface distribution, too few features were located to define subsurface features without excavation. With this, we concluded that surface distributions are not a reliable way to predict the nature of buried archaeological deposits at this site. It is then quite possible that such inconsistencies characterize other archaeological sites as well.

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Mar 2nd, 12:30 PM Mar 2nd, 1:45 PM

An Investigation of the Relationship Between Surface and Subsurface Distribution of Cultural Artifacts

Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library

Archaeologists have frequently assumed that artifacts found on the surface of archaeological sites represent both the variety and spatial distribution of archaeological materials that lay beneath the surface. For example, at the Hatchery West Site in Illinois, the surface distribution of various kinds of stone tools, potsherds, and burned rock were used to define prehistoric, sub-surface activity areas, house floors, and hearths. Our study examines the nature of the interrelationship between artifacts from the surface and excavations at a prehistoric house located at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Glacier Creek Preserve near Bennington, Nebraska. Systematic surface collections, as well as test excavations, were carried out by archaeological field schools in 2016 and 2017. The content variation of the surface versus the subsurface collections were then compared statistically. Spatial distribution maps or overlays were used to define the spatial locations of surface artifacts with respect to artifacts collected in the subsurface excavations. In this case, both the surface and subsurface artifact collections were statistically different. In contrast, surface overlays comparing surface artifact distributions versus subsurface features revealed that subsurface features, including soil color and textural changes, scatters of charcoal, and burned earth were, in fact, located within the boundaries of the surface scatter of artifacts. Although subsurface features were located within the surface distribution, too few features were located to define subsurface features without excavation. With this, we concluded that surface distributions are not a reliable way to predict the nature of buried archaeological deposits at this site. It is then quite possible that such inconsistencies characterize other archaeological sites as well.