Archaeology and Geomorphological Investigations at Indian Camp Run 2 (36FO0066)
Testing at Indian Camp Run Site No. 2 (36FO66): A Preliminary Report of Findings
A view of Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66) looking south from the floodplain of the Allegheny River
This webpage examines two reports detailing recent excavations at Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66). The first paper provides a preliminary analysis and interpretation of the diagnostic artifacts that have been recovered at the site to date. The second paper written by Dr. Todd Grote (Geomorphologist) with Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, analyzes certain geomorphic events responsible for the formation of the terrace over many thousands of years.
Information gathered at 36Fo66 was included in a paper given at the Geological Society of America (GSA) annual meeting held in Portland, Oregon in October 2009. A paper entitled “Late Quarternary Stratigraphy of the Upper Ohio/Allegheny River Basin: A Developing Framework for Geoarchaeological Investigations” presented data from 36Fo66 and a number of other sites in the region. This paper was co-authored and included contributions by Dr. Todd Grote, Ryan Robinson, Mitzey Schaney, Eric Straffin, and Andrew Myers.
Other papers/presentations regarding 36Fo66 are currently being planned. A paper entitled “A Review of the Early and Middle Woodland Components Recovered at Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66): A Small Campsite Overlooking the Allegheny River in Forest County, PA” is scheduled for presentation at the upcoming Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) annual meeting to be held in Greensburg, PA in April, 2010.
Indian Camp Run site No. 2 (36Fo66) is located a few miles below the mouth of the Tionesta Creek in Forest County, PA. This site is located just east of the larger Indian Camp Run No. 1 (36Fo65) site on the adjacent terrace near the confluence of Indian Camp Run and the Allegheny River.
This region of the upper Allegheny River basin (Ohio River) is included in the unglaciated portion of Allegheny Plateau of the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province. The typical topography of the region includes broad table like plateau with moderate to steep sided slopes when dissected by the larger tributaries found throughout the region. The site is situated in a woodland setting that extends for many hundred acres to the east, west and south of the site before being interrupted by villages and farmland. A golf course was constructed north of the site just across the river on Holeman's Flats.
The better known and larger Indian Camp Run No. 1 (36Fo65) site has undergone extensive excavation since 1999 following initial discovery in 1998. Data gathered at (36Fo65) has been the focus of public presentations to the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology. Information regarding ceramic data was included in a 2004 publication co-authored with Dr. William C. Johnson entitled "Population Continuity and Dispersal: Cordage Twist Analysis and the Late Woodland in the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau of Northwestern Pennsylvania" and included in New York State Museum Bulletin 500. Recently in the fall 2007 issue of Pennsylvania Archaeologist a manuscript entitled "A Preliminary Report on the Paleoindian Assemblage from Indian Camp Run No. 1 (36F065)” was published which analyzed some of the early components found there.
With a large amount of information being amassed from (36Fo65) curiosity would eventually shift to the much smaller terrace at (36Fo66). Prior to the 2006 field season Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66) had never produced a single diagnostic artifact despite being tested in 2001 with a 1X1 meter unit and again in 2004 with a 1X2m unit. The site was originally surface collected in 1998. At this time a small number of lithics were recovered. Unfortunately none of these endeavors provided clues regarding the identity of the prehistoric occupants and/or relative age of the site.
Goals and Objectives
More extensive testing would be necessitated. This additional testing was initiated in an attempt to answer the following questions regarding the site:
1) Who occupied the site? Could any diagnostic artifacts be recovered that could offer clues as to the sites inhabitants, and provide relative dates for any sub-assemblage found?
2) Is the stratigraphy of the site in any way similar to that of the adjacent Indian Camp Run No. 1? Indian Camp Run No. 2 appears to be at least a meter higher in elevation. How "deep" is the site; how deep would we expect to find cultural bearing soils?
3) What comparisons (if any) could be made regarding the artifact assemblages found at 36Fo65 and 36Fo66?
4) What information could be gathered to compare and contrast site functions between the two sites? House patterns and storage and trash pits were found at 36Fo65. Would these types of features be found at the much smaller 36Fo66.
The terrace is extensively used as a camping area in the warmer months of the year. A strategy to conduct excavation would need to be devised to avoid conflict with campers. Testing was conducted on a limited basis by opening only small units (1X2m) at a pace of around 1 per year. These small units are manageable and can usually be excavated in a few days time. Once complete they can be backfilled and the terrace rehabilitated to make it look like nothing had been disturbed. Even though the units are small and excavate fairly quickly, vandalism is still a problem at the site.
In spite of these problems five 1x2 meter units and one 1X1 have been excavated to date. These units have been placed in strategic locations on the terrace and incorporated into a test grid pattern that correlates with the original site map. Excavation was conducted in 10 cm arbitrary levels. Features when located were cross- sectioned based on the long axis of the feature. These too, were excavated in 10 cm increments. All artifacts recovered were bagged according to provenience within a level and by provenience within a feature such as north half, east half, etc. Diagnostic artifacts were point provenience by northing, easting, and by elevation. Cross sectioned portions of the features were bagged separately and any remains such as charcoal and bone were collected and placed in aluminum foil containers for storage. Once a unit was excavated down to culturally sterile levels a profile was drawn depicting the site stratigraphy, any features, and any anomalies such as rodent burrows that might be present in the profile. This is an over simplification of the work completed but suits our purpose here. The units were then backfilled and the site area rehabbed so that future campers could enjoy the normal pristine conditions encountered at the site area.
RESULTS OF FINDINGS
Testing conducted at Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66) uncovered a number of sub- components that have not yet been witnessed at the larger and more thoroughly excavated (36Fo65). Significantly, the first Early Woodland interior cordmarked Half-Moon ceramics were recovered during testing at 36Fo66. Also a Middle Woodland sub-component was recognized replete with a ceramic vessel found in association with Raccoon Notched points. Other sub-components and associated diagnostic remains include Late Woodland shell tempered ceramics similar to Chautauqua Cordmarked, a Terminal Archaic projectile found on the edge of a hearth feature, a possible Late Archaic side-notched Brewerton, and tools from the deepest levels of the site similar in form to Paleoindian typologies including a notch and a large lanceolate point. An Early Archaic corner-notched point similar to the St. Charles type was found washing out of the bank near the creek.
A total of ten features were investigated in four 1X2 meter units. One 1X2 meter unit and a 1X1 meter unit failed to produce any recognizable features. Test Units (1X2m) 3 and 4 produced two features each while Test Units (1X2m) 5 and 6 produced three features each. All of the features identified represent the remains of prehistoric hearths. No trash and/or storage pits were identified and no post molds and house patterns were identified. The typical feature was a small hearth typically containing small amount of fire cracked rock (FCR). Many of the upper level features have been disturbed by modern camping and prehistoric activity. The feature(s) associated with the Middle Woodland ceramics (Test Unit 4, Feature 2) appears to intrude into an earlier Early Woodland feature. Feature 2 in Test Unit #6 produced a broadspear form in situ on the edge of hearth containing quantities of fire cracked rock.
Test Unit 3 Profile-Note 2 features visible in wall
The deepest hearth (Feature 2) encountered occured in Test Unit #3 at a depth of between 129 and 133 cm below ground surface (BGS). Charcoal found in this feature was collected for dating purposes. An AMS assay known as Beta 221005 produced a conventional radiocarbon age of 4540 +/-40 BP. The 2 Sigma calibrated results (95% probability) dated to Cal. BC 3370 to 3100 (Cal. BP 5320 to 5050). The intercept of radiocarbon age with calibration curve dated to Cal. BC 3340 (Cal. BP 5290). The 1 Sigma calibrated result (68% probability) dated to Cal. BC 3360 to 3320 (Cal. BP 5310 to5270) and Cal. BC 3220 to 3120 (Cal BP 5170 to 5070). This information was further calibrated based on the Cologne Radiocarbon Calibration program and produced a calendric age of Cal. B.C. 3243 +/- 99). This hearth feature (Feature 2) was dated due to the great depth (comparatively) at which it was found at approximately 1.30 meters in Test Unit #3. Since the adjacent site known as Indian Camp Run No. 1 (36Fo65) reached a maximum depth of around 1 meter, it was hoped that this hearth would date to the Paleoindian or Early Archaic period. This did not prove to be the case. It must be noted that the author does not currently accept this date and feels it is far too young. One Late Archaic Brewerton age point was found “in situ” at 84 cm below ground surface (BGS).
A TEMPORAL VIEW OF FINDINGS
Late Woodland Diagnostics
Late Woodland is represented by a smattering of shell tempered ceramics. Only two rims similar to Chautauqua Cordmarked have been recovered to date. Both rims were recovered from Test Unit 5 in Level 2. The rims are undecorated with the exception of cordmarking placed on the exterior surface of the vessel. Interiors are smooth. The rims are squarish in profile. Weft slant patterns observed on one of the rims produced final “S” twist patterns in keeping with Johnson’s (1994b) description of the type. For a full description see Johnson’s (1994b) paper entitled “McFate Incised, Conemaugh Cordmarked, Chautauqua Simple Stamped and Chautauqua Cordmarked: Type Definitions, Refinements and Preliminary Observations on Their Origins and Distributions”. Other Late Woodland diagnostics found in the upper levels of the site include triangular point (Madison) forms.
Middle Woodland Diagnostics
A number of Middle Woodland diagnostics have been recovered to date. Some of the items include Raccoon Notched and Jack’s Reef projectiles and numerous flake blades found in association with ceramics decorated along the exterior sublip of the rim by paddle edge impressions. The ceramics are somewhat similar to the description of Mahoning Cordmarked presented by Mayer-Oakes (1955: 191) although his description is brief and general shapes of the body and base are said to be unknown from samples he witnessed. In fact there are virtually no type descriptions available for Middle Woodland pottery in the central Allegheny River basin and in northwestern Pennsylvania in general. According to Johnson (1978: 46) “no definition of Middle Woodland ceramics exists, and when reported, they are usually ascribed to Mahoning ware (Mayer-Oaks 1955) or to one of the pre-Owasco New York types” (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949). Based on this statement the ceramics found at Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66) may warrant a separate type designation herein referred to as Indian Camp Run Cordmarked. The sample from Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66) consists of some 30 sherds, including 3 rim fragments, 3 basal fragments and 24 body sherds.
Diagnostic points found at Indian Camp Run No. 2
Various tool forms recovered from Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66)
Jasper and Upper Mercer chert found in Levels 2 and 3
There are enough sherds present in the sample to provide a description of the shape of the vessel. The rim is fairly straight with just a slight eversion noted in the sublip region. The mostly straight sided vessel culminates into a conical base. There are the slightest of shoulders present at the point where the rim transitions to the body and base. The vessel is estimated to be approximately 22 cm (ca. 9 inches) in height and 16.5 cm (6.5 inches) in diameter around the mouth of the vessel.
The tempering agent is crushed rock in the form of igneous granite along with quartz. There is evidence of heat treating of the paste prior to addition to the clay. Inclusions range from as small as 1 mm to as large as 8.7 mm in size and the paste appears well sorted.
The lip is rounded and is slightly beveled profile. The top lip has been paddle edge stamped. Decoration in the form of parallel, oblique, paddle edge impressions encircle the sublip region of the rim. The vessel is cordmarked over the entire exterior surface. Some smoothing can be witnessed on basal sherds and is likely the result of useware. The vessel exhibits final “Z” twist cord impressions.
The base of the vessels appears to have been manufactured by coiling. The rim however may have been molded to the base. This may explain the slight shoulders present on the vessel. The thickness of the vessel ranges from 6.2 mm at the top lip of the rim to as thick as 17.1 mm at the base. Based on the small sample the average thickness is 8.98.
The vessel Munsell’s to a dark brown (almost black) to brown color.
Early Woodland Diagnostics
Found generally below but also mixed in with the later Middle Woodland ceramics were a number of thick interior cordmarked body sherds. These were found in association with a fireclay pipe perform and a drilled stone pendant. The interior cordmarked ceramics are similar to Half-Moon ware as described by Mayer-Oakes (1955).
Interior Cordmarked Half Moon Ware
Some 27 interior cordmarked sherds have been recovered to date. These ceramics are highly friable attesting to their great age.
They are described as exhibiting plain or smoothed exteriors with cordmarked interiors. No rim sherds were recovered in the sample. The shape of the vessel is largely unknown but likely exhibited exhibit straight sides with a conical base, although some Half-Moon cordmarked examples exhibit square bases designed to mimic earlier stone pots. The lip of the Indian Camp Run vessel was likely square.
The ceramics were tempered with crushed rock including quartz and sandstone. There is evidence for heat treating of the aplastic mix. The inclusions to the temper averaged from 2 to 3 mm in size while some were as large as 6 mm.
The ceramics were fairly thick ranging from around 9 mm to 12 mm with an average thickness of 10.35 mm.
Weft slant patters were visible on a number of the sherds and produced final “Z” twist patterns.
The Munsell color of the sherds is a 10YR6/3 pale brown.
The Early Woodland ceramics were found with a number of other Early Woodland diagnostics.
Fireclay Pipe Preform
Two tubular “cigar” shaped pipe blanks were recovered in association with Half-Moon ware. One was manufactured from fire clay while the other is a sandstone copy that is actually a creek cobble in the same general shape of the fireclay specimen. The fireclay preform measures 102.5 mm in maximum length. The maximum width is at the top end at 40.04 mm. The width at the base or smoking end is 24.65 mm. The sandstone preform measures 106.5 mm in maximum length. The maximum width is again at the top or bowl end and measures 43.89 mm. The maximum width occurs at the base measuring 22.67mm.
Fireclay pipe preform
Bell Shaped Pendant
One bell shaped pendant was recovered. It was manufactured from a flat sandstone rock that had been water sorted most likely in the Allegheny River. The rock is reddened and was either purposefully heat treated or possibly burned in a later Late Woodland hearth. The stone was thinned by cracking the rock in half. The pendant measures 118.83 mm in maximum length. The width at the base measures 87.95 mm and maximum thickness is 21.18 mm near the rounded or distal end. One drill hole measuring 5.4 mm in diameter was drilled though the rock. Interestingly 2 small quartz pebbles appear to have been purposefully placed in one end to block the hole. The fact that the pendant was manufactured from a local stone may (Mayer-Oakes 1955:60) indicate weaker contact with Adena centers.
As the excavations began to reach deeper soils a Terminal Archaic component was encountered in Test Unit #6, Feature 2, 55 cm below ground surface (BGS) in Level 6. The feature appeared as a charcoal stain in the western end of the unit. Careful removal of the soils in the upper few cm of the feature produced a number of fire cracked rock in association with the charcoal. One broken projectile similar to a Terminal Archaic broadspear form was recovered in direct association with the feature. The type most closely conforms to Ritchie’s (1965) description of Frost Island. The lithic material is unknown but possible western New York in origin. Numerous charcoal samples were gathered from this feature for 14C dating purposes.
One projectile was recovered which may be a Late Archaic Brewerton side-notched form. This point was found in Test Unit #6 at an elevation of 84 cm below ground surface (BGS) or nearly 30 cm below the Terminal Archaic point. The point exhibits a double side notch on one side of the stem that is common for the Brewerton side-notched type. The point is made from local western New York state lithics.
The deepest artifacts recovered are pictured below and include a stemmed lanceolate point, a notch, and a utilized flake. The stemmed lanceolate point was made from local shale and was recovered in Test Unit #4 at an elevation of 123 cm below ground surface (BGS) in Level 13. It measures 73 mm in maximum length. A maximum width of 27.3 mm occurs near the shoulder/ haft juncture and a maximum thickness of 7.2 mm was also found in this region which represents the base of the blade. Basal thinning was also witnessed. Measurements of as low as 4.3 mm maximum thickness were recorded from the lower end of the haft region. The central portion of the haft measures 25.2 mm. The use of material other than chert may be indicative of the fact that high quality workable chert sources are currently unknown in the general vicinity of the site. The notch was recovered from Level 12 in Test Unit #5. This flake tool exhibits one narrow concavity formed by pressure flaking along the left margin (dorsal surface up). It was manufactured from a low grade tan/gray chert of unknown origin. The utilized flake was recovered in Test Unit #6 at 136 cm below ground surface (BGS) in Level 14. This tool was manufactured from Gull river chert. The deepest artifact (not pictured) recovered from 36F066 was found in Test Unit #6 at 149 cm below ground surface in Level 15. This tool appears to be a retouched flake. Whether these tools are Paleoindian in age is open for debate.
Artifacts found in the lower levels of the site
A small number of artifacts have been recovered to date from Indian Camp Run No. 2 (36Fo66). The additional testing provided answers to our original questions outlined in our goals and objectives. We were able to recover diagnostic artifacts that provided clues as to the sites inhabitants and relative dates of occupation.
Interestingly a number of components were recovered from 36Fo66 that were conspicuously absent for the larger and more thoroughly excavated 36Fo65. For example no interior cordmarked Half-Moon ware was recovered from 36Fo65. Raccoon Notched projectiles were also not recovered from 36Fo65. Middle Woodland at 36Fo65 is recognized by the presence of a single Chesser Notched point manufactured from local chert while an abundance of Early Woodland point forms including Adena “Beavertail”, Cresap, Meadowood, Forest Notched, and Dickson Contracting Stemmed were recovered. No Early Woodland points were found at 36Fo66
Along with the differences in the artifactual assemblage, differences were also noted regarding the internal settlement patterns between sites. These observations were based on recognizable intrasite features which suggest specifically different roles in site function between sites. At 36Fo65 there is evidence of multiple house patterns with at least one turtle pit being constructed on site. Numerous hearths, storage and trash pits have also been identified. At 36Fo66 we have a number of small hearth features. No storage or trash pits and no house patterns have yet to be identified. The terrace at 36Fo65 is also much larger than the neighboring 36Fo66.
The most significant occupation of the site occurred during Early and Middle Woodland times. The Early Woodland assemblage includes interior cordmarked ceramics similar to Half-Moon ware. This pottery was found to be in direct association with a fireclay pipe perform, a water sorted sandstone cobble replica, and a drilled stone pendant.
Half-Moon Cordmarked and related forms is the earliest clay ceramic type found in the upper Ohio valley. According to Fetzer and Mayer-Oakes (1951) Half-Moon Cordmarked is the basic Early Woodland pottery found throughout the upper Ohio valley and is the most common member of the Half Moon ware recovered at the Half Moon site located near Weirton in Brooke County, West Virginia. Half-Moon ware is associated with Adena burial mounds and village sites. The earliest dates associated with Half-Moon Cordmarked ware have been recorded at the Meadowcroft Rock shelter and date to 1115+/- 80 B.C. and 865 +/- 80 B.C. (Johnson 1982:154). The ware was still in use nearly a thousand years later as documented by dates of 173 B.C. (Dragoo 1963: 135) and 180 B.C. (Amockwi Chapter SPA 1980 from Herbstritt 1988: 5) from the Georgetown site in Beaver County, PA. According to Dragoo (1959) Half Moon Cordmarked is closely related to Baumer (Cole, 1951) and Crab Orchard (Maxwell, 1951) types and to Fayette Thick (Griffen, 1943). It is also very similar to Vinette I (Ritchie and MacNeish, 1949).
Fireclay block end tubular pipes and preforms are diagnostic of the Adena culture. They have been found in a number of burial mounds including burial 48 at the Cresap Mound (Dragoo 1963:80) located in Marshall County, West Virginia. According to Dragoo (1963, Table 1: 170-174) tubular block ended pipes were also found in the Natrium, Beech-Bottom, Half-Moon and Crall mounds. A cache of 6 tubular pipes and blanks manufactured of fireclay was found in the Upper Allegheny River near Kinzua in Warren County (see Dragoo 1963:138, Plate 45). Specimens A and B are nearly identical to the 36Fo66 specimen. The block end tubular pipe is also characteristic of Ritchie’s Middlesex Phase and a finished example was recovered from the Vine Valley site in Yates County, NY ( see: Ritchie 1994: 203, Plate 72, no. 16). During late Middle Woodland times another important occupation of the site occurs. We appear to have an intrusion into the Early Woodland feature by members of the late Middle Woodland Intrusive Mound complex. This is evidenced by the presence of Middle Woodland ceramics in the form of a small conical pot found in direct association with Raccoon Notched projectiles and numerous small flake blades manufactured from exotic Upper Mercer and PA Jasper lithic types. Whether this amalgamation of components represents an intrusive burial is uncertain. No evidence of human bone or cremations has yet to be identified however it must be noted that a good portion of the river terrace has most likely long since eroded into the Allegheny River.
Components of the Intrusive Mound complex conform to Lantz’s (1989) Allegheny River Phase and Johnson’s (n.d.) Edinburg Phase which is thought to date to a period of A.D. 500-950. The Middle Woodland occupation of the upper Allegheny River valley was extensive. There are numerous Middle Woodland mounds found in the Allegheny River valley. Areas such as Buckaloons and the upper Allegheny River valley near the Pennsylvania/New York border appear to have been large regional centers. There were at least seven mounds (probably more like nine) known to have existed at Irvine (Carpenter 1971:267) and many important mounds such as Sugar Run in the upper Allegheny region. And, while these groups were extensively utilizing floodplain locals for their villages and ceremonial centers they were extensively utilizing rockshelters in the surrounding hills and adjacent watercourses including such areas as the Allegheny National Forest (Lantz 1982).
There appears to have been more than one Middle Woodland group occupying the region (Johnson et al. 1979:76; Lantz 1982:46) one possibly evolving from an Early woodland base and the other group a possible intrusion of Hopewell people from Ohio. The first localized group built stone mounds, manufactured limestone tempered ceramic vessels and placed very little “high church” grave offerings in their burials (Johnson et al. 1979: 76). The second group manufactured earthen mounds, grit tempered pottery with fabric impressions and utilized an abundance of exotic Hopewellian material (Johnson et al. 1979: 76). All of the Middle Woodland sites exhibiting Hopewellian material are associated with mounds including Cold Spring, Sugar Run and Buckaloons (Lantz 1982:51). This second group was also responsible for constructing many of the local mounds that have been assigned to Ritchie’s (1965) Squawkie Hill phase which was based on a single date of A.D. 160 +/- 100 years. Ritchie (1994:216-217) included the following mounds into Squawkie Hill: In western New York, the Squawkie Hill and Geneseo mounds (Ritchie 1938a; 1944: 202-207) and the Wheatland, Killbuck and Vandalia mounds (Carpenter 1950:307; 1950a) in western Pennsylvania, the Sugar Run mounds (Bliss 1942), Irvine, Cornplanter and Corydon mounds (Thomas 1894: 499-502; Carpenter 1956), the Nelson mound (Carpenter and Schoff 1951) and the Danner mound (Clark, Lantz and Robinson 1960).
While the Hopewell influence of the upper Ohio valley was extensive (Mayer-Oakes 1955: 216; Ritchie 1965: 228), at some time around A.D. 500 the occupations were either terminated or culturally altered (Dragoo 1963: 293). Lantz (1989) has suggested at around A.D. 500 the local Middle Woodland and Intrusive Hopewell cultures appear to have merged resulting in the Allegheny River Phase of A.D. 500-950 of which the distinctive Raccoon Notched point assemblage is diagnostic.
A smattering of earlier diagnostics was recovered. One hearth feature produced a medial and basal section of a Terminal Archaic projectile similar to the Frost Island type Ritchie (1961). Another projectile recovered was similar to a Brewerton side-notched form. Testing would continue to a depth that nearly doubled that from which the Brewerton was extracted. The deepest tools found at the site include a notch, a large lanceolate biface, and a utilized flake. The notch is a classic Paleoindian form which is said to be well known in eastern fluted point assemblages (Gramly 1992: 39). A retouched flake was found at 142 cm below ground surface (BGS). This was the deepest artifact recovered.
Prepared by: Dr. Todd Grote, Geology Department, Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania
Sites 36FO66 (Indian Camp Run 2) and 36FO65 (Indian Camp Run 1) are located at the confluence of Indian Camp Run with the Allegheny River in Forest County, Pennsylvania (Figure 1). When combined together, both sites have produced a well-documented stratified record of cultural occupation spanning the late Paleoindian through Historic times and are significant to understanding the pre-history of the Upper Ohio-Allegheny River Basin. The author visited the sites on 4/24/09 then again on 5/15/09 to examine the site stratigraphy of 36FO66 (UTM 17N 4591760 N, 625620 E) and to view previous work at the sites.
Dr. Frank Vento originally described the stratigraphy of 36FO65 during a site visit in 2005. Dr. Vento’s site stratigraphy is summarized in Myers and Myers (2007) and is significant to the interpreting the overall geomorphic setting and depositional environments hosting both sites. No open test blocks were present within the 36FO65 site boundary. Therefore, geomorphic information pertaining to 36FO65 is based upon landform morphology, Dr. Vento’s descriptions, and one shallow soil auger boring only. Site stratigraphy for 36FO66 is based upon soils and sediments exposed within one 2 x 1 test block and other available data provided by Andrew Myers of Appalachian Archaeological Consultants.
The soil profile described at 36FO66 follows standard procedures of Keys to Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff, 2006) with slight modifications using the terminology of Birkeland (1999). One radiocarbon assay is currently available for 36FO66 and is deemed useful to understanding the geomorphology of the Indian Camp Run sites. The charcoal sample was extracted from F2 of TU3 at a depth of 127 cm and sent to BETA Analytic, Inc (sample # 221005) for AMS radiometric analysis. AMS dating of feature F2 within TU3 yielded a conventional radiocarbon age of 4540 +/- 40 14C years before present (ybp) (2 ó BC 3370-3100). The remainder of this communication summarizes site conditions of 36FO66 observed during the 2 site visits, provides pedological and geomorphic data collected during those times, and develops relationships between the two Indian Camp Run sites.
Geomorphology and Soil Stratigraphy
Although closely spaced, the landforms hosting each individual site have a different geomorphic origin and history. Figures 1 and 2 depict the alluvial landforms present along the Allegheny River at the confluence of Indian Camp Run. Cultural deposits of 36FO66 are contained within a sandy alluvial matrix with only minor colluvial input from the adjacent hillslope. Figure 3 is an example of the soil stratigraphy (Profile 1) and morphology exposed at 36FO66 on 5/15/09. The soil-sediment matrix of Profile 1 has developed in a series of sandy loam to loamy vertical accretion deposits typical of a low terrace (T1) setting along rivers in the Eastern United States. The soil profile is noncumulative and bisequal that contains an upper stratigraphic unit of pedogenically modified alluvium (soil 1) overlying a truncated and welded (sensu Birkeland, 1999) lower alluvial soil-sediment sequence (soil 2) (Figures 3 & 4). An undulating paleosurface is evident at and near the top of the lower sediment package (Bw1b horizon) and is reflected by a series of fire features and cultural deposits. No discrete buried A (Ab) is associated with the lithic discontinuity (geologic disconformity). However, it is quite possible that a buried landsurface (Ab) horizon has been pedogenically assimilated into the top ~ 10-12 cm of the Bw1b horizon based on a higher charcoal concentration and presence of several prehistoric cultural features and artifacts. In fact, deeply buried Ab horizons are conspicuously absent throughout the soil-sediment matrix of 36FO66 across the T1 surface.
Time-diagnostic artifacts recovered from TU6 are preliminarily identified as Susquehanna Broadspear, found at 55 cm depth in the Bw1b horizon, and Brewerton, found at 84 cm depth in the Bw2b horizon. Custer (2001) indicates Susquehanna Broadspear use in the Middle Atlantic region from between ~ BC 2000-1500. The side notched point thought to be a Brewerton point indicates usage between ~ BC 3000-1700 (Justice, 2008 and references therein). Transferring the 14C age-depth function of TU3 to TU6 to enhance the stratigraphic framework for cultural deposits contained therein indicates an early Late Archaic Age (2 ó BC 3370-3100) for the Bw3b horizon. The assignment of an early Late Archaic age to the Bw3b horizon is chronologically/stratigraphically consistent with younger Late Archaic ages obtained for the overlying Bw2b and Bw1b using time-diagnostic artifacts. Additional Late and Middle Woodland lithic artifacts (triangles at ~ 15 cm depth and Racoon Notched points at 20-30 cm depth respectively) obtained from 36FO66 from shallow depths in the A2 and BC/BE soil horizons and Early Woodland Half Moon ceramic ware demonstrate a mixed artifact assemblage that commixes Early through Late Woodland cultural components above the lithic discontinuity (Figures 3 & 4).
The mixed Woodland cultural components are likely the combined effect of concurrent occupation and low/slow overbank sedimentation with reworking by biopedoturbation. The outstanding question that remains to be answered is how does this chronology/stratigraphy relate to 36FO65?
Relationship to 36FO65
Cultural deposits of 36FO65 are housed within a mixed alluvial-colluvial deposit with a sandy and gravelly matrix that has its apex within Indian Camp Run (Figure 5). In contrast to the T1 landform hosting 36FO66, the alluvial-colluvial deposits hosting 36FO65 were interpreted by Dr. Vento to show multiple depositional events (C soil horizons) punctuated by phases of relative landform stability (AC soil horizons). The angular gravels within the lower soil-sediment matrix shown as F6 on Figure 5 suggest sediment deposition from Indian Camp Run, possibly as an old Indian Camp Run channel deposit or possibly as a hyperconcentrated or debris flow. The surface morphology of the F1 landform strongly suggests an alluvial-colluvial fan interfingering with stream alluvium as shown on Figures 1 & 2. If this is truly the case, I feel that the sandy loam deposits described in Myers and Myers (2007) are likely flood events (alluvial), possibly representing both the Allegheny River and Indian Camp Run. The landform therefore is more appropriately termed a fan-terrace complex (FT) as shown on Figures 1 & 2. To that end, the soil stratigraphy of 36FO65 is markedly different than 36FO66 and may only partially correlate between the sites. The cultural chronology of 36FO65 also indicates an older landform, although additional charcoal collected at depth from 36FO66 may show the T1 is older than known at present. I suspect much of the T1 sediment fill is younger than the FT complex hosting 36FO65. Further subsurface testing is required to confirm this interpretation.
Preliminary Geomorphic Reconstruction and Natural Site Formation
Despite the fact that only limited subsurface testing has been performed by the author, several preliminary geomorphic and geologic interpretations can be developed. I propose the following chronology for landform development and natural site formation.
After glacial meltwater was no longer routed through the Allegheny River system around ~ 13-14 ka ybp (Rogers, 1990), the landscape began to stabilize and was suitable for floral and faunal (including human) colonization. The Allegheny River adjusted its hydraulic geometry to the reduced water volume and sediment supply by transitioning from a shallow, high-energy braided river to a transitional/mixed braided-meandering and untimately to the meandering and straight system we see today, similar to the adjustments recognized for the Upper Ohio River below the confluence with the Allegheny River (Rogers, 1990, Kite et al., 2006). During the late glacial and into the early Holocene the landscape became more stable and the Allegheny River incised vertically below the late glacial base level. The angular gravel and alluvial deposits (F6 and F7 strata on Figure 5) underlying the late Paleoindian (Barnes point) Occupation of 36FO65 (F5 stratum on Figure 5) represents a paleochannel position of Indian Camp Run prior to later Holocene incision towards today baselevel approximately 2 m below the angular gravel bed of 36FO65. I hypothesize Indian Camp Run was flowing farther westward where it finally intersected the Allegheny River. Remnants of the former floodplain of Indian Camp Run-Allegheny River are presumably preserved as the lower sediments of both 36FO65 and possibly 36FO66. At some point during the Holocene (probably late-middle or late Holocene) the Allegheny River incised to near its modern position and migrated eastward eroding portions of the former floodplain, but also creating the T1 and FT landforms, now present approximately 3-3.5 m above the river. The timing of incision and floodplain abandonment (now the T1) may relate to the paleoclimate shift from warm/dry to cool/wet that occurred around 3000 ybp (e.g. Knox, 1983).
The soil stratigraphy of 36FO65 also suggests episodic hillslope mass-wasting activity and river flooding both contributed sediment to the FT landform (the FT landform may actually be the proximal-middle remnant of a larger landform that prograded westward into what is now the Allegheny River channel), whereas the T1 that hosts 36FO66 appears to be largely alluvial vertical accretion deposits of the Allegheny River.
In regards to the cultural and soil stratigraphy of 36FO66, I speculate that the lower soil stratigraphic unit that contains evidence of Late Archaic occupations within the Bw1b and Bw2b horizons (see Figure 3 for soil-age information) formed when the Allegheny River and Indian Camp Run were at a higher level and that the lower soil-sediment package represents floodplain deposition and syndepositional occupation (pre-incisive occupation on Figure 4).
Sometime during the late Holocene, probably during the Transitional Archaic and/or Early Woodland, the Allegheny fluvial system became more geomorphically active with renewed lateral migration and vertical incision to almost modern levels. A phase of increased fluvial activity during the Transitional Archaic is documented elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic Region (e.g. Knox, 1983; Vento et al. 1994) and possibly caused the unconformity at the top of the Bw1b horizon at 36FO66.
It is unknown if this proposed fluvial event is preserved in the stratigraphy of 36FO65. The surface soil stratigraphic unit of 36FO66 likely represents low/slow sedimentation onto the T1 surface after river incision and floodplain abandonment and may partially account for the extensively mixed early through late Woodland cultural assemblage where occupation occurred on a more-stable geomorphic surface (post-incisive occupation of Figure 4) several meters above river level. Since TI formation, biopedoturbation has significantly overprinted cultural deposits contained within the site matrices of 36FO66 and 36FO65. Biopedoturbation may also account for some mixing of cultural deposits. Of particular interest is the fact that the site does not appear to have a cap of post-settlement alluvium associated with Euro-American colonization that is present at other locations along streams and rivers across North America. Modern camping may also be a significant site modification/disturbance agent that should be taken into account when making behavioral/cultural interpretations of both sites.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The alluvial landforms along the Allegheny River at the confluence with Indian Camp Run hold much promise to provide significant data concerning the Quaternary geomorphology and cultural history of the region. It is recommended that further subsurface testing be conducted on both the T1 and FT landforms to better constrain the stratigraphic framework that contains cultural assemblages. To accomplish this task with minimal disturbance to cultural deposits, it is recommended that the T1 and FT scarp faces be scraped of colluvium to expose the vertical soil stratigraphy and supplemented by additional shovel test probes across the landform treads. Detailed, high-precision surveying should also be conducted to determine topography-landform-age relationships between the T1 and FT so that cultural data can be put into proper landscape context.
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Indian Camp Run (36FO0065) Miscellany |
Archaeology and Geomorphological Investigations at Indian Camp Run 2 (36FO0066) |
Wingates Mortar and the Seasonal Round |
Paleoindian Research in Western Pennsylvania |
Stewart Phase Shenk's Ferry Pottery in the upper Ohio River Valley |
Archaeological Investigations at Dutch Hill Rockshelter|
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