Between A.D. 1250 and 1400, Indian people of the Nebraska phase of the Central Plains tradition occupied southwestern Iowa. The Glenwood culture is nickname for Iowa’s archaeological sites of the Nebraska phase. It is called the “Glenwood” culture because there is an especially dense concentration of about 200 known sites within 10 miles of the town.
Glenwood culture people grew maize, beans, squash, sunflowers, gourds, and tobacco. In addition to farming, they gathered wild plants to make food, medicine, and household goods. They also fished and hunted for birds, small game, bison, deer, and elk. Food was dried and stored for the winter in grass-lined pits dug beneath their house floors.
Tools were made of stone, bone, and shell. Pottery was made for storage and cooking. They undoubtedly worked with leather, wood, basketry, and textiles, but these materials have not survived to be found by archaeologists.
The Glenwood culture disappeared from the archaeological record before the year A.D. 1400. Changing climatic, environmental, and cultural factors likely put new pressures on the previously stable Glenwood hamlets. Ultimately the people were forced to move away. As they did they no doubt came into contact with new peoples and conditions that changed their lives and culture forever.
A Guide to the Photo Archives
The U.S. 34 photo archives are organized into five galleries, based on content or artifact type. Click to read a background of each gallery's content. Unless noted, all of the below images are courtesy of the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist.
The Glenwood area of Iowa in Mills County occupies a unique natural region called the Loess (pronounced “luss”) Hills. This distinctive geologic landform stretches through western Iowa from near Sioux City to St. Joseph, Missouri. These hills of wind-blown silt were formed by glacial activity from about 31,000 to 12,500 years ago during the Pleistocene. Learn more from the Iowa Geological Survey.
This area contains hundreds of archaeological sites spanning 13,000 years of indigenous, midcontinental history from the precontact Paleoindian, Archaic, Woodland, and Late Prehistoric periods through historic times. Most outstanding, however, are the remnants of an American Indian culture that existed between A.D. 1250 and 1400 during the later period of the precontact era—the Nebraska phase of the Central Plains tradition. In Iowa, the Nebraska phase is colloquially referred to as the Glenwood culture.
In eastern Nebraska and southwestern Iowa along the Missouri River and the lower reaches of its tributaries, Nebraska phase sites of the Central Plains tradition are typically comprised of earthlodges. Archaeologists estimate that as many as 1,000 earthlodge dwellings once covered the hills and valleys in the southern Glenwood locality, all within a 10-mile radius of the confluence of the Platte and Missouri rivers. These dispersed earthlodges are found on the Loess Hill ridge summits and inside valleys along the Missouri River and its tributaries. There is a remarkable connection between the sites of the Glenwood culture and the boundaries of the Loess Hills. There is no other prehistoric culture in Iowa that is so closely tied to a single location on a map of the state.
In the late 1960s, the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) proposed a major relocation and expansion of U.S. Highway 34 in Mills County. The construction threatened to damage or destroy a number of archaeological sites related to the Glenwood culture, one of Iowa’s first farming communities. Under the auspices of the newly enacted National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Iowa DOT funded the excavation of 18 earthlodge sites. The archaeological portion of the U.S. 34 relocation and expansion work occurred in two stages dating to 1969 and 1971–1973, all led by staff from the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA). At that time, this was the largest, single systematic archaeological field project ever undertaken by Iowa DOT.
The field work was directed by archaeologists Adrian Anderson and John Hotopp. Their efforts were often assisted by local avocational archaeologists who were intimately familiar with the area. Some of these had been identified during the early surveys of S.V. Proudfit and Seth Dean, Frederick Starr, and Ellison Orr. Local avocational archaeologists also brought many sites to the attention of the OSA investigators. Still other sites were identified only when they were exposed during highway construction.
The Iowa DOT funded the excavations under the auspices of 1950s federal highway legislation, but the original funding did not cover the essential analysis and publication of results. A Transportation Enhancement grant received from the Iowa DOT in 2011 has made possible the analyses of the Glenwood phase U.S. 34 project sites, a comprehensive technical report, and the creation of this website.
Glenwood women were accomplished and prolific pottery makers. The vessels they made were important in their daily lives. They not only served as cooking vessels, but were used as eating utensils and to carry and store water or dry food and seeds. Techniques and skills for building and firing pottery were likely passed down from mother to daughter. The pots were produced by coiling or mass-modeling clay that was tempered or mixed with sand, crushed rock, or crushed mussel shell.
Archaeologists pay a great deal of attention to fragments of pottery found in prehistoric sites. The variety of vessel shapes, materials used for temper, and decorative designs provides archaeologists with useful information for identifying and defining cultural phases and traditions. All pots with the same general form are called wares. The decoration appearing on pots or potsherds is used to divide wares into different types.
Nebraska variant pottery, including Glenwood ceramics, consists of primarily grit-tempered globular jars, a few bowls, seed jars, globular bottles, and rarely, high neck bottles. The vessels are predominately utilitarian. They may have loop handles, strap handles, or lugs including zoomorphic forms. Red-slipped pottery and varying frequencies of shell-tempered pottery also occur. Nebraska variant globular jars have constricted necks and rounded bottoms with smoothed-over cordmarked and occasionally plain or plain polished exterior surfaces. The exterior rim and neck surfaces are usually smooth even if the remainder of the vessel body is cord-roughened. Decorations are usually on the lip or exterior of the rim and consist of tool impressions or geometric patterns of trailed lines.
The photos in this collection, and more extensively in the archaeological report, are described using the traditional, established ware/type system for Nebraska variant pottery, although some researchers have suggested these be revised. This selection of photos represents the range of Glenwood pottery types. In total, the U.S. 34 project sample is from 18 lodge sites and contains 2,178 Glenwood phase rim sherds.
Hunting and fishing provided Glenwood people with much more than food. While we can only infer the uses for hide, fur, and feathers from our knowledge of more recent Plains cultures, the hundreds of bone and shell tools and ornaments recovered during the U.S. 34 excavations testify to a myriad of uses for animal bones and shell. Glenwood culture people frequently crafted bone and shell into tools for sewing, weaving, farming, hunting and butchering, and fishing. Turtle shells served as bowls and mussel shells as spoons. Bone and shell artifacts also provide us with a glimpse of the aesthetic side of life. Glenwood artists used bone and shell to create a variety of ornaments and decorative items. Cut and polished segments of mammal and bird long bones created cylindrical beads, while shells were cut into disk-shaped beads. Animal canines were modified for use as pendants or ear ornaments.
The bone tools from the U.S. 34 are in an excellent state of preservation and the shell less so, but the shell tools are very fragile in several instances. There are 306 shell tools, ornaments and tool fragments made on freshwater mussel valves and marine shell. Tools made from bison scapulae (shoulder blades) are present, but infrequent in numbers and always in a well-used condition. This suggests that scapulae were acquired primarily from trade. The tools were then made and curated because of infrequent or difficult access to bison herds.
There are certainly some interesting and uncommon tool types such as the shell applicators, bone and antler handles, drilled fishhook blanks, the turkey cock pendant from 13ML139, and the turtle plastron bowls. What may be more notable are the tools not present. There are no horn scoops, digging tools, cleavers, large matting needles (the needle from ML120 is the exception), whistles, pins, antler points, quill flatteners or pottery shaping tools, bone flakers, picks, sickles, and so on, commonly associated with Plains Village assemblages. Bone tools for hide processing such as beamers, fleshers, and hide grainers are virtually absent.
Glenwood people were skilled producers of chipped and ground stone tools and items used for hunting, butchering, food processing, and more. This selection of photos represents the range of stone artifacts, also referred to as lithics, analyzed from a sample of four of the 18 lodge sites excavated for the U.S. 34 project.
These sample sites yielded 257 ground stone artifacts that represented categories including abrading, smoothing, and polishing tools; grinding and pulverizing tools; percussion tools; hafted percussion tools; and paraphernalia such as pipes and hematite. Chipped stone tools and debitage recovered from the four sites totaled over 11,000 specimens, including 189 projectile points. More than half of the chipped stone tools are composed of Spring Branch and Curzon cherts. Others are composed of chert from sources originating beyond the Central Plans to the east, west, and south. Ogallala orthoquartzite, Tongue River silica, and Flattop chalcedony are also represented.
Chipped and ground stone tools recovered at Nebraska phase sites in Iowa are typical of the Late Prehistoric period. Small triangular unnotched, side notched, and multi-notched projectile points were produced for hafting to arrow shafts used for bow and arrow hunting. In the Glenwood locality, unnotched projectile points are generally larger than notched points and may be technologically unfinished. It is also thought that multi-notched points are more common on early sites.
Other chipped stone tools found in the Glenwood locality include drills, gravers, celts, and knives. Less formal bifaces may also have functioned as cutting tools or represent unfinished preforms. Scrapers were produced on thick flake blanks and given a narrow ovoid or tear-drop outline and presumably used for hide processing. Informal, expedient flake tools for generalized cutting and scraping purposes, including long, narrow blades, have also been identified in Nebraska phase lithic assemblages.
U.S. 34 Photo Archives
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U.S. 34 Excavations
Bone and Shell
The Loess Hills are a distinct geographic region in western Iowa. This region is special, because it is one of the very few places in the world where the loess deposits are as thick and extensive. The landform stretches across western Iowa in an unbroken line from north of Sioux City southward into Missouri. (Image modified from an Iowa Geological Survey map)
People of the Glenwood culture occupied the Loess Hills in southwest Iowa about 600 to 800 years ago. This culture was distinctly different from other Late Prehistoric groups in the state. Their house styles, pottery, and other artifacts indicate they were related to Central Plains tradition groups living to the west in Nebraska and northern Kansas. The Glenwood locality is one of nine localities along the Missouri River occupied by earthlodge dwellers during this time period. During their residency in the Glenwood locality, as many as 500 to 1,000 lodges were built.
Between A.D. 1250 and 1400, some of the Central Plains people moved east across the Missouri River and occupied a portion of southwestern Iowa. Here they built their earthlodge homes and farmed in the Loess Hills and Missouri River bottoms. Although a few of these sites have been found in Pottawattamie, Harrison, and Fremont counties, by far the greatest number are in western Mills County. The Glenwood State Preserve was recognized as including exemplary sites of prehistoric Native American occupation in the Loess Hills. The preserve contains sites that range in age from about 5,000 years ago to the early settlement era about 150 years ago. The most significant cultural resources located on the property are the Late Prehistoric Glenwood culture earthlodge sites.
Archaeologists have observed with great interest that Glenwood culture sites in Iowa are concentrated within a 10 mile radius of the confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but it certainly reinforces the cultural connection with the west. The Platte and the Missouri rivers would have provided easy travel routes onto the Plains. Perhaps these people spent a portion of their summers hunting on the Plains and used the waterways as a means of bringing heavy loads of meat and hides back to their lodges in the Loess Hills. Or, possibly, they were involved in trade and chose this location to be close to this crossroads of transportation.
The Loess Hills are very distinctive. They rise abruptly from the flat Missouri River floodplain to the west, forming a series of elongated hills with narrow ridges and spurs separated by steep ravines. These hills are made from a material called loess (pronounced “luss”), a German word meaning “loose.” Loess consists of exceptionally uniform, fine-grained particles made up mostly of quartz. The quartz particles are larger than clay but smaller than grains of sand. They are so fine that they can be blown around by the wind, and, under the right conditions, piled up like deep snow drifts. Because of the angular shape of the grains, loess is very cohesive, meaning it sticks together and can form the tall, nearly-vertical cliffs and deep, steep-sided gullies that we see today.
Glenwood culture people built their homes on ridges and terraces and grew crops in garden beds near their houses. This artist’s reconstruction imagines what Glenwood earthlodge settlements might have looked like. Isolated structures or small clusters of lodges are distributed across the landscape. They are situated along the ridges and bluffs, on side-slopes and foot-slopes, and along terraces of the Missouri River and its small tributaries, particularly Keg Creek and Pony Creek. By spreading out their settlements across the landscape, each household or small group of households would have access to tillable soil along the fertile stream valleys. Living in small groups scattered across the land would have helped to conserve other important resources such as wood for fuel and construction or wild plants used for food and medicine.
The Loess Hills were formed during the ice ages between 150,000 and 12,500 years ago. As glaciers moved across the continent, they crushed the rock beneath them into fine particles. Torrents of water from the melting glaciers carried this “rock flour” from underneath the glaciers and deposited it on the flat plains in front of the ice sheets. As it dried out, the particles were picked up by the strong westerly winds that blew along the ice front. When the wind crossed the Missouri River valley and blew across the slopes on the eastern side of the river, it lost some of its strength. The loss of velocity meant that the wind could no longer carry all of its load, and the loess was deposited on the eastern flanks and tops of the bluffs. It buried the existing land surfaces and became the dominant element shaping the terrain. The angular landscape is the result of wind and running water carving through the thick loess deposits for the past 12,000 years since the last of the glaciers disappeared. Even after thousands of years of weathering and erosion, the deposits in Iowa’s Loess Hills range from 60 to more than 200 feet thick. (Image credit: University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist)
Archaeological excavations in the Glenwood locality provide important evidence of what the houses of the Glenwood people looked like. This photograph shows the floor plan of an excavated earthlodge. These large structures were square with rounded corners and an extended entryway. Most entryways appear to face southeast or southwest, presumably to avoid the prevailing winds and to take advantage of the sun. When archaeologists excavate an earthlodge, what they actually find is the hard-packed surface that was the floor of the house and a collection of features which mark the places where support posts, fire places, and storage pits were located. When combined, these elements produce a “foot print” or outline of a floor plan.
Archaeologists make maps and take photographs so they can study the arrangement of the features and artifacts found at a site. They combine that knowledge with ethnographic information from Native American informants who lived in earthlodge villages in more recent times, including the Pawnee, Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara. This allows them to understand how ancient lodges were built and determine what they might have looked like.
This photograph shows the excavation of an earthlodge in 1971. To help keep track of the distribution of artifacts and features within the lodge, a grid of uniform squares was set up across the site and all material from each square (also known as an excavation unit) was kept together. When archaeologists identified features, each was excavated separately. Careful records were kept to document the location of every find.
The floors of Glenwood earthlodges are dotted with the openings of storage or cache pits reach up to one meter in depth. Some are shallow basins, while deeper pits are cylindrical or bell shaped. These underground cache pits functioned much as root cellars do by keeping their contents cool and dry. Ancient peoples used cache pits for many storage needs. Stored items included dried produce, meat or dried fruit wrapped in hide containers, bone grease kept in animal bladders, or less perishable items like bones, antlers, shells, or stone stools. A cache was often used repeatedly until it became damp or spoiled by mice. Pits that were no longer useful were generally filled with trash and abandoned. These trash-filled pits became wonderful “time capsules” for archaeologists to find.
This cache pit excavated at 13ML129 contained a collection of bison scapulae (shoulder blades) that had been prepared for use as garden hoes.
Storage pits sometimes contain charred seeds or nut shells that provide evidence about the food that Glenwood culture people were growing and collecting. Corn seems to have been the main crop, but there is also evidence of beans, squash, sunflowers, yellow gourd, and tobacco. In addition, Glenwood culture people may have been growing domesticated varieties of goosefoot, marshelder, and little barley. (Image credit: Michael Scullin)
This feature was excavated in the floor of the earthlodge at site 13ML34. It consists of a concentration of fire cracked rock located near the center of the lodge. Fire cracked rock is often associated with baking or roasting pits and hearths.
This small, dark circular stain is the remnant evidence of a wooden post. Archaeologists refer to these features as “post molds” or “post holes.” They are formed when the wooden post rots away. Even if all of the wood is gone, the organic stain left behind makes the post mold stand out against the surrounding soil.
Posts were used for many kinds of structures. They could support the walls and roof of a house or create a wall or divider within a house. They could indicate a variety of structures outside of a house, such as a ramada for shade, drying stages, or defensive walls around the border of a village. Archaeologists carefully study the sizes and arrangements of post molds and the materials found around them to determine what kind of structure they represent.
This artist’s drawing illustrates the evolution of a post hole from the time the post was set into the ground by ancient builders to the time the remaining stain is identified by an archaeologist.
This fragment of a charred post is evidence that some of the Glenwood earthlodges burned. Charred wood can be so well-preserved that specialists can identify the species of tree that created it. Specialists analyzed wood charcoal from the Glenwood lodges and found ten species of trees that were used for construction. Wood from the elm family (elm or hackberry) was the most common material used for house posts. Walnut and white oak were used less often. Samples of charred wood were also submitted for radiocarbon dating, which provided archaeologists with good estimates for the ages of the structures.
Charred timbers found at some earthlodge sites indicate that hardwoods were preferred for construction, although other wood such as green ash, willow, plum, red cedar, and cottonwood were sometimes used. Historic accounts of Plains earthlodge builders such as the Pawnee and Hidatsa suggest that timbers were cut by burning and chopping and allowed to cure for a long time before construction began. Experimental construction of a Hidatsa-style earthlodge required 1,000 trees to build a single house.
Some Nebraska phase earthlodges burned while they were still occupied. Houses that were abandoned quickly because of a fire preserve a snapshot of the way the space and associated objects were arranged and used. By counting the number of once whole pots, now crushed by falling timbers, archaeologists can estimate the actual number of vessels used by a household. The position of specific tools such as flintknapping tools or cooking equipment can indicate the location of activity areas in various parts of the house.
In the late 1960s, the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) proposed a major relocation and expansion of U.S. 34 in Mills County. The construction threatened to damage or destroy a number of archaeological sites related to the Glenwood culture, one of Iowa’s first farming communities. Under the auspices of the newly enacted National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, IDOT funded the excavation of 18 earthlodge sites. Excavations took place between 1969 and 1973. At that time, this was the largest, single systematic archaeological field project ever undertaken by IDOT. The field work was directed by Adrian Anderson (seen at the far right in this photograph) and John Hotopp, professional archaeologists at the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist. Their efforts were often assisted by University students and local avocational archaeologists who were intimately familiar with the area.
Archaeologists working on the U.S. 34 project had to carry out an immense amount of excavation in a very limited amount of time. In some instances, they were working on small islands in the midst of active highway construction.
Excavation methods on the U.S. 34 project were highly variable depending on the situation. In some cases, archaeologists had to work quickly to save sites from impending construction. In the case of site 13ML121, archaeologists completed the salvage work in a single day. They are seen here excavating at night.
Beckman collared pot from 13ML145, reconstructed by the Milwaukee Public Museum in the 1930s. Collared rim pottery is found in all of the Glenwood locality sites, but the highest frequencies are associated with the southern-most concentration of sites in the Keg Creek drainage.
This globular vessel from 13ML119 has strap handles and a trailed decoration on its shoulders. These features show the influence of pottery styles from other contemporary culture groups. Designs on vessel shoulders primarily reflect the influence of the Steed-Kisker culture, a Central Plains group found in the Kansas City area. The strap handles suggest the influence of Oneota ceramic styles. The Oneota lived to the east in central and northeastern Iowa and later in northwestern Iowa.
McVey ware vessel with strap handles from 13ML130. Restoration done by the University of Iowa in the 1970s. Several pottery wares, defined by vessel form, have been identified in Glenwood sites. Among the most common is McVey ware, characterized by large vessels with rounded bodies, a smoothly curved shoulder leading to a constricted neck, and a simple straight or flaring rim. This example was found at in lodge site just south of Glenwood.
McVey Tool-decorated pot from 13ML121. Restoration by the University of Iowa. A typical direct rim jar classified as McVey ware. In one method of manufacturing pottery, a cord-wrapped paddle was slapped against the exterior surface working against a stone anvil or the potter’s hand held inside this vessel. This process helped to seal the seams, remove pockets of air, and create uniform thickness. This vessel shows distinct cord-marking across the body, with portions partly smoothed-over. The pot was then decorated using a stick, small bone, or a fingertip to create a series of indentations along the rim. Archaeologists call these tool impressions.
This globular vessel has a short rim and narrow opening suggesting that it was used to carry and store water. It is called a globular water olla, pronounced “oye-ya”.
This is a Sanders Plain ware, red-slip water vessel found at 13ML119, an earthlodge near the mouth of Pony Creek. A slip is a thin layer of colored clay that is washed over the surface of a vessel. It is believed to be a trade vessel from Oklahoma. Alternatively, its presence could suggest that Glenwood potters were influenced by the Caddoan culture of the Southern Plains region.
This Correctionville Oneota vessel was found in an earthlodge at site 13ML10, and restored by the University of Iowa. A few of the Glenwood sites contain shell-tempered pottery with trailed decorations on the shoulder. Trailing is a method similar to incising, but using a blunt tool rather than a sharp one. Trailed pottery found in earthlodges in the northern part of the Glenwood locality reflects the style of the Oneota culture group that occupied northwestern Iowa during the Late Prehistoric period.
The presence of pottery with non-local characteristics suggests that ideas about pottery form and decoration were moving into the Glenwood locality from other culture groups. This Glenwood-phase seed jar with a “weeping eye” motif may be an indicator of Mississippian influence coming from the Cahokia region near St. Louis.
Miniature vessels were found in low numbers in many lodges excavated for the U.S. 34 project. These vessels were likely used as serving coups. Some miniature vessels may have been practice pots, possibly made by young girls learning to make pottery. Other miniature vessels are well made and can be associated with known wares, suggesting that potters were making these small vessels for a specific use.
Steed-Kisker designs on Glenwood phase pottery. Trailed line motif. Ancient potters often applied decoration to the rim of their vessels before firing. The pattern and its location on the pot provide archaeologists with clues about the choices and preferences of potters in different parts of the Glenwood locality. The similarities and differences may identify groups that were related by blood or marriage, such as families or clans, who lived in clusters of earthlodges in different parts of the region.
These Missouri Bluffs cord impressed pottery fragments were decorated by pressing single strands of twisted fiber cord into the clay. Cord impressed pottery is an older style of pottery made by Late Woodland culture groups who preceded the earthlodge dwellers in the region. The presence of Woodland ceramics suggests that some Glenwood lodges were built on older prehistoric sites.
Beckman ware consists of globular jars with thickened rims called collared rims. The rims are straight to slightly flaring. Decoration on this rim panel from 13ML139 includes a Steed-Kisker motif. This band of trailed geometric designs was created by pulling a sharp tool through moist clay, which created a furrow with raised ridges on the edges.
Beckman Cross-hatched ware. Conjoined rim sherd fragments found from two different lodge sites: 13ML138 and 13ML139
Lines such as these are applied by pulling a sharp tool through moist clay, which creates a furrow with raised ridges along the edges. Decorations could be made in a variety of patterns, which may reflect cultural differences (different communities) as well as individual expression of particular potters as they began to accept new ideas of geometric designs from other contemporary culture groups.
Ceramic figurine pipe from 13ML129.
Modeled human and animal effigies have been found in the Glenwood locality. They appear as appendages on the rims of pots, as pipes, or as isolated figurines. The figurines found at Glenwood earthlodges have led archaeologists to postulate complex relationships between other Central Plains populations, as well as Mississippian, Caddoan, and southwestern populations.
Ceramic pipes were found in a number of Glenwood earthlodges. Pipes may include incised decoration or modeling in the form of animals or human faces. This specimen (front and side views pictured) from site 13ML129 in the Keg Creek valley is an effigy pipe, made with a human face gazing out or away from the smoker.
Ceramic pipes of varying forms, including zoomorphic (animal) and anthropomorphic (human) shapes, have been recovered from Glenwood sites. This specimen is a complete, shell tempered effigy pipe with a bowl shaped like the head of a bird. It was found in cache pit at site 13ML119, a lodge near the mouth of Pony Creek. This pipe is locally made, but in a Caddoan style. This indicates an influence from Caddoan people who lived on the southern Plains.
Manufacture of bone tools was by the groove and snap method. In this process, the toolmaker uses a sharp implement to cut a groove into the bone, then the unwanted material snapped off. The working end of the tool was then ground and shaped as necessary. As a rule, removal of spongy bone or cancellous tissue occurred, but this is not always the case. The majority of the tools and worked bone waste have distinctive polished and often striated surfaces—a defining feature of use.
Also pictured here (far left) is shaft wrench, made from the leg bone of a deer. Holes are present on each shaft face, and they are large, suggesting the wrench was part of a spear/atlatl shaft assembly.
Awls and needles are among the most widely reported tool types found in Glenwood locality. They are primarily made from mammal bone. This awl is made on the proximal (upper) end of a deer ulna (lower front leg). The surfaces are highly polished, indicating it was used to work soft materials. Awls are sharp, pointed tools that do not have an eye like a needle. They are used to perforate soft materials to facilitate sewing, weaving, or basket making.
There are three complete needles in the U.S. 34 assemblage, as well as several fragments from seven sites. All are on strips of antler or mammal ribs and are very fragile. Matting needles, such as this one from 13ML120, are thicker and do not have a hole or eye, and they were used for weaving mats and baskets. Eyes in needles were drilled with a sharp-tipped stone tool, working from both sides. Notches were cut in the sides to anchor thread.
Scapulae modified and hafted for use as hoes and knives are ubiquitous Plains Village tools. This tool is a bone knife made from the scapula (shoulder blade) of a bison. The edge of the naturally thin scapula could be easily sharpened with an abrading stone. Scapula knives were used to cut soft materials such as vegetables. Bison scapulae were prized for use as hoes and may have been brought to the site from far away. When the hoes became worn out or broken, fragments were often reshaped and sharpened for use as knives and other tools.
The shoulder blades of bison and, less commonly, elk were fashioned into tools used for hoeing and digging. The raised ridges and edges were removed by chipping and grinding. Notches on the blade margins helped to attach the hoe to a wooden handle. Characteristically, both scapular blade faces exhibit polish from contact with the soil. This tool was essential for maintaining gardens. Bison scapulae were collected and carefully preserved, often stored in cache pits awaiting use. There are 14 hoes in the U.S. 34 assemblage, and other fragments that are probably from hoes. The infrequent number and condition of scapular tools indicate bison scapulae are primarily from trade, then the tool made and curated because of infrequent or difficult access to bison herds.
To shape a stone flake into a tool like a knife or arrowhead, a flintknapper needs to detach small flakes by applying leverage (pressure) to an edge of their flake blank. Antler tines and pieces of bone were often used for this purpose. The modified tip of the antler is used to apply force by pressing against the edge of the stone being shaped. Downward and outward pressure pops the flakes off. The tip of the flaking tool becomes roughed and dented, and the sides become worn and smooth from handling.
Fish appear to have been an important part of the Glenwood people’s diet. More than 25 species of fish have been identified from Glenwood earthlodges, and sixteen Glenwood sites have yielded fishhooks and fishhook blanks. Bone fishhooks such as these were manufactured on flat, rectangular sections of mammal bone that were worked with drills and sharp gouging tools. The final form was made by abrading and polishing the specimen.
These large canine teeth are from an American black bear. They were collected by a Glenwood hunter, possibly for use as ornaments.
This canine tooth is from a dog or wolf. A hole was drilled through the root with a sharp stone tool so that it could be used as a decoration on a necklace or ear ornament. Alternatively, it may have been sewn onto a garment.
Bone beads and other ornaments provide a glimpse of the aesthetic side of life. These cylindrical beads were made from cut and polished segments of bird or mammal long bones using the groove-and-snap method. The broken ends on finished specimens were ground and polished.
There are 11 beads from five sites in the US-34 collection. Most shell disk beads are made on sections of freshwater mussels; however, three are made on marine shell. They are all disc forms--parallel-sided, thin and circular in outline with a central perforation for suspension, except for one cylindrical bead from 13ML132. They show extensive grinding, polishing and shaping. The bottom specimen pictured here is classified as a bead preform, meaning it is unfinished.
A pair of triangular pendants specimens may represent a matched set cut from a mussel shell and shaped by grinding and polishing. A hole was drilled in one end to suspend them, possibly as ear ornaments, necklace pendants, or onto a garment. In total, there are 11 pendants, beads, drilled and cut shell reported from 11 Glenwood sites.
These pendants or ear ornaments were made on complete valves from freshwater mussels. Suspension slits were ground into the shell near the umbo (beak). Grinding striations are visible all over the exterior of the shell, from the top of the umbo down to the margins on all sides.
The wear on the surface of these mussel shells indicates they were rubbed against a soft surface such as a hide. The applicators were hide working tools with a few also serving a scraping function. Experiemental archaeology and analysis of organic residue clinging to some mussel shell artifacts from the Glenwood collections demonstrates that some of these shell valves were used to hold and apply a mixture of brains, grease, and charcoal or red ochre to add color to hides during processing.
Sandstone shaft abraders are among the most distinctive tools in Plains Village tradition sites of the Late Prehistoric period. Archaeologists analyzed 86 abrading tools in the Glenwood lithic assemblage. Abraders exhibit a V- or U-shaped groove on one or more flattened surfaces. V-shaped grooves, such as on the bottom specimen, indicate the production of pointed objects such as bone awls, or needles for matting and sewing. U-shaped grooves, such as on the top and middle specimens, indicate use in the production of slender rods such as arrow shafts, or rounded objects like stone beads, and the width of the groove is an indicator of the diameter of the object being worked.
Bottom (two): Paired sandstone shaft abraders. Complete, useable shaft abraders consist of pairs of rectangular sandstone blocks with rounded edges, each half containing a single U-shaped groove. The two grooves form a nearly complete cylinder when the two blocks are held together, forming a tool useful for the final smoothing of a projectile point shaft.
Top: A rectangular sandstone block with V-shaped grooves oriented lengthwise across both broad surfaces. The specimen is possibly a shaft abrader preform, but the presence of an off-white to yellowish material representing bone or perhaps limonite residue within one of the grooves suggests a finished tool used for bone tool sharpening or pigment production.
Specimens related to pigment processing activities in the grinding and pulverizing tools category include seven specimens classed as paint palette fragments. The paint palettes are distinguishable by the flat or slightly dished polished surface of a thin tabular stone, in contrast to the somewhat larger and thicker cobbles used for basin metates. Pictured is one made of a coarse-grained sandstone, which exhibits hematite staining on one rough surface. Both sides of the artifact are pictured here.
Worked hematite fragments analyzed in the U.S. 34 assemblages include both pigment stones and shaped pieces. A hematite tablet, or possibly an unfinished pendant, was one these specimens. Both sides are shown here. This tablet from 13ML130 does not exhibited patterned incising like those that represent animals or mythological creatures such as found at the Blood Run site in Lyon County. The example shown here was found at the back of the lodge along with hematite processing tools and waste hematite.
Celts are similar to axes but lack the groove, have a more rounded cross-section, and were hafted with the blade oriented perpendicular to the handle rather than parallel to it. Celts were the only hafted ground stone tool type identified in the sample of U.S. 34 lodges analyzed.
Two different celts are pictured here. The fragment on the left appears to have broken before it was finished, which was likely the result of hard hammer use. On the right, two sides of a nearly-complete celt are pictured. This celt was recovered from 13ML139, located between the entryway and the hearth, an area of the lodge floor historically designated as a workshop.
Hammerstones in the analyzed Glenwood lithic assemblages exhibit variable amounts of impact damage, usually along cobble perimeters. In contrast to the multi-function tools classed as manos that also were used as hammer or anvil stones, hammerstones are single-purpose tools, although use as both heavy-duty hammers and lighter-duty pecking stones is possible.
The red pipestone specimen (right) is a prowed elbow form from 13ML130 is made of Kansas pipestone. Decoration is limited to one incised ring near the lip of the bowl. The bowl is not perpendicular to the stem but tipped slightly toward the smoker, which, would allow the pipe to be held in a manner that would permit the bowl to be upright if used while the smoker were seated.
Site 13ML126 yielded a somewhat larger but unfinished calcite pipe (left), also of the prowed elbow type but with the bowl angled away from the smoker. The pipe appears to have been made from a tabular block that was cut in the elbow shape and rounding off the edges by grinding.
This image shows two different views each of the pipes from 13ML130 and 13ML126.
The bowl on the larger calcite specimen is incompletely drilled, and the stem hole has only been initiated, leaving considerable drilling to be done.
Fourteen drills were recovered from two of the four analyzed Glenwood lodge sites, eleven from 13ML128 and three from 13ML130. All have been bifacially modified and have roughly parallel-sided projections or bits with rhomboid-to-circular cross-sections. Those with a rectangular or triangular base may have originated on unnotched arrow point bases. Interpretable wear traces suggest contact with wood, bone/anther, and hide.
Nineteen gravers were recovered from the four combined sites, however over half were recovered from 13ML128; two were recovered from 13ML129, three from 13ML130, and one from 13ML139. Gravers are distinguished by a projection that exhibits intentional retouch on both sides creating a projection or tip that reaches noticeably outward from the piece. Flakes or flake fragments, in a variety of sizes, were typically used as gravers. Interpretable wear traces suggest uses on hide, bone/antler, and possibly shell.
There are seven tools in the bipointed biface type, which is well documented in the Plains literature and consistent specimens from other lodge excavations referred to as large thin diamond-shaped bifaces, Plains beveled knives, and beveled and shaped knives. Bipointed bifaces vary in form and size, which is likely attributed to the fact that tools wear in use and must be sharpened by further flaking. All of the tools examined for use wear displayed two or more used zones, some with different attributes on one and the same implement, resulting from scenarios that included more than one of the following: (1) the tool was hafted; (2) the tool was used for more than one activity; (3) the different used zones were the result of a single but complex activity; and (4) the tool had been subjected to ‘special treatment’ after its use. They most commonly displayed a hide polish, suggestive of extensive use on both dry and fresh hides.
A single elongate oval biface from site 13ML139 was manufactured from Florence chert and its maximum dimensions measure 190 mm in length, 42.5 mm wide, and 5.4 mm thick. Like the bipointed bifaces, it was shaped first through the removal of wide, flat thinning. The edges are shaped using narrow and shorter flake removals than those used initially to thin the biface. The blade exhibited extensive wear traces on the lateral edges indicating contact with soft tissue, bone, and hide.
Nine bifacially worked, heavy duty chipped stone tools were recovered from three of the four analyzed lodge sites. Five are pictured here. All have a fairly regular shape with bits that are either biconvex suggesting use as axe, or a slightly curved or asymmetrically beveled bit suggesting use as an adze. Others refer to similar tools from Central Plains sites as chipped stone celts, axes, hoes, and picks.
Processing animal hides for clothing, containers, shoes and other purposes was a complex process requiring an assortment of tools made of stone and bone. Microwear analysis shows that these stone scrapers were hafted to a wood or bone handle. This facilitated the removal of animal hair to thin and soften hides as part of the preparation process. End scrapers, the most formal and most common scraper type, are unifacial tools manufactured from large, thick flakes. Side scrapers are characterized by steep edge retouch along one or both lateral edges of a piece, and disto-lateral scrapers are characterized by steep retouch on both a lateral side and end. 204 scrapers were recovered from the four study sites. Three cherts, Curzon, Spring Branch, and Florence comprise the majority of scrapers from each of the four sites.
Utilized and minimally retouched flake tools are common at Plains sites, and lodge sites in this study are no exception. Utilized and minimally retouched flakes exhibit very little or no intentional modification to their edges, except that which resulted through use. The flake tools represented here were initially identified on the basis of macroscopic wear traces, a subsample of which were examined microscopically. These types of flakes showed evidence for cutting, sawing, slicing, scraping, and perforating in diverse contexts that included processing minerals, hides, bone/anlter, animal tissue, and plants.
In the four lodges studied, unnotched triangular points (55%) are slightly more frequent compared to notched points. All of the unnotched triangular points, both small and large sizes, exhibit clear use and haft wear traces. In some instances, points appear to have been used to perforate hide, as evidenced by both extensive sharpening and the presence of extensive dry hide polish on the distal point tips. On the other hand, a long use life as a projectile or lance tip, or the use of a sheath, could also lead to an accumulation of hide-like polish on point tips.
Notched arrow points, generally associated with earlier sites, reveal use wear traces in the form of spots of polish from contact with bone and meat that occur in greatest frequency on the surfaces and lateral edges in the distal one third of the point tip. Haft traces are evidenced by friction polish sometimes with overlapping striations and a black residue presumably from the use of a binding mastic. Also, some points exhibit a flat friction polish on their blade surfaces that may result from stone-on-stone contact, possibly the result of several implements kept together in some sort of sheath or quiver.