Raw Material Utilization in Carroll County, Indiana: A Small-Scale Analysis of Diachronic Patterns in the Usage of Attica, Kenneth, and Wyandotte Cherts

Article excerpt

Abstract This paper presents an analysis of a small sample (n = 360) of diagnostic hafted bifaces from southern Carroll County, Indiana. Placed within a regional framework and rooted in hunter-gatherer theory, the results of this analysis offer some important insights into diachronic patterns of chert utilization in this region. Although the usage of Attica, Kenneth, and Wyandotte cherts is the specific subject of this study, other chert types are also discussed. In addition, examination of patterns of chert utilization by projectile point cluster offers support for established models of settlement and exchange through time and presents new problems to be addressed by future archaeological investigations. Insights provided by hunter-gatherer theory and recent studies of hunter-gatherer social organization and home ranges in Eastern North America suggest that the patterns identified herein and in other similar studies are the result of several interacting social and economic variables (e.g., exchange, mobility) that operated at various scales and durations throughout prehistory.

Over the past 35 years archaeologists working in Indiana have focused a great deal of attention on locating and describing the chert raw material resources that were available to the prehistoric occupants of the state (see Cantin 1994 for an excellent example and bibliography). This has resulted in a number of testable hypotheses concerning the utilization of these chert resources through time as well as hypotheses concerning the social organization and settlement patterns of groups in particular parts of the state (Cantin 1989, 2000; Stothers 1996; Tomak 1970, 1981, 1987). One can only hope that these models will be adopted by researchers currently working in Indiana and subjected to the kinds of rigorous testing procedures to which similar models have been subjected in other parts of the country (e.g., Anderson and Hanson 1988; Daniel 2001).

Unfortunately, this paper is not an example of one of these tests. What it does attempt to do is summarize several of these studies and place them within a framework of current perspectives on hunter-gatherer theory and Midwestern culture history. Furthermore, it is my intention to extend the interest in developing models of social organization and settlement patterns throughout Indiana, specifically in an understudied portion of the state-the area in and around southern Carroll County. As the models cited above (as well as others discussed in Cantin 2000: 92-95) have dealt primarily with southern and northeastern Indiana, and as archaeological investigations in and around Carroll County have been primarily restricted to limited cultural resource management investigations and excavations related to the Wabash and Erie Canal (Moore 2003), the situation concerning prehistoric archaeology in this region may be characterized as a data gap. The purpose of this study, then, is two-fold: 1) to begin to fill in the northcentral Indiana data gap by presenting data pertaining to the utilization of three Indiana chert types-Attica, Kenneth, and Wyandotte-in the vicinity of southern Carroll County and 2) to reformulate many of the hypotheses put forth by earlier researchers within the context of current hunter-gatherer theory and Midwestern culture history. Although the sample size utilized herein is small (n = 360), it is hoped that by placing these data in a regional theoretical framework they can provide some insights into chert utilization and social organization in this under-studied portion of the state-insights that can be further developed into testable hypotheses in future explorations of the archaeological potential of this region.

Physiographic Considerations

Carroll County, Indiana (Figure 1) is located in the Tipton Till Plain physiographic unit in north-central Indiana. The county is drained by the Wabash River and several tributaries. All hafted bifaces utilized in this study were recovered from the Wildcat Creek drainage, a tributary of the Wabash that trends from east to west through the southern portion of the county. …