|10 September 2003
Prehistoric agriculture in Wisconsin
Archaeologists have discovered the first hard evidence of organised prehistoric farming in Wisconsin (USA). The site, near Fabry Creek in the town of Union on the Door County peninsula, shows multiple layers of occupation over thousands of years and is almost unique in Wisconsin archaeology. The earliest layer could date back 12,000 years.
A team from Marquette University’s Centre for Archaeology Research has been conducting a rapid investigation alongside Wisconsin 57, prior to the expansion of the highway. Initial finds of a milling stone and kernels of burnt corn have been identified as belonging to Native Americans of the Oneota period. Chipped stone, broken pots, arrowheads and spear points, burnt wood and bone fragments, trash pits and indications of at least one wigwam structure suggest that the site was once occupied by a semi-permanent village in about 1200 AD. But beneath the Oneota stratum the team discovered several layers of more ancient artefacts, each representing a different period of occupation. If stylistic analysis of spear points is confirmed the oldest layer could date back to 9,600 BCE.
Marquette’s James Clarke Jnr says that the excavation may also yield information on glaciation in the region. The lake shoreline rose and fell over hundreds of years, depending on the melting and freezing of the glaciers: “Archaeologists have been digging through almost 5 feet of pure sand, indicating a prehistoric beach. And a thick layer of decayed plants may help determine the last ice age retreat.”
Source: Pioneer Press Wisconsin (3 April 2003)
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