Saturday, 15 July 2006

Application of Geomorphological and Pedological Characteristics to a Plains Indian Archaeological Site.

Crystal J. Frey1, Randall Miles2, and W. Raymond Wood2. (1) Univ of Missouri, 302 ABNR Bldg, Columbia, MO 65211, (2) Univ of Missouri, 302 ABNR Building, Columbia, MO 65211

The Double Ditch State Historic Site is situated in a loess landscape east of the Missouri River near Bismarck, North Dakota. The 7.7 ha site was occupied from ca 1450 to 1785 by Mandan Indians, Plains Villagers who exhibited a systematic and deliberate pattern of behavior unique to the region. A crucial factor in developing a timeline of cultural activity during occupation is to understand earthmoving activities relative to pattern and time. A soil coring program was conducted with: transects within the village, and in an adjacent area of similar, relatively undisturbed soil to serve as a control; and satellite locations within the village in unique cultural features. An underlying, contiguous paleosol (Early Holocene) is used as the stratigraphic reference in concert with physical, chemical and spatial characteristics of both the paleosol and overlying loess soil to determine the degree of earthmoving activity. Through the use of laboratory data some conclusions may be drawn from field activities and description of soil cores. The control transect, through measured depth to paleosol, indicates the Early Holocene topography to be gently rolling, while the modern surface rises gently with distance from the Missouri River. In the Holocene-aged loess, texture is predominantly silt loam with lesser amounts of fine sand in the upper 1 m, and slightly coarser from 1 to 3 m. Subrounded sand grains occuring below the paleosol indicate the landform was a strath terrace prior to about 12,000 ybp. In soil cores taken within the village, it is strikingly evident that depth to the paleosol has been reduced through human activity by as much as 1.5 m when compared to the control at a comparable distance from the source. This non-uniform removal of soil is attributed to deliberate cultural activity of the inhabitants of Double Ditch Village.

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