X-Ray Powder Diffraction Analysis of Early and Middle Woodland Red Pipes from Wisconsin

By Boszhardt, Robert F.; Gundersen, James | Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, MCJA, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview
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X-Ray Powder Diffraction Analysis of Early and Middle Woodland Red Pipes from Wisconsin

Boszhardt, Robert F., Gundersen, James, Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, MCJA


Red tube and platform pipes have been found across the Upper Midwest and Upper Great Lakes. Platform pipes from the Midwest are confidently associated with the Middle Woodland Hopewell phenomenon, while tube pipes in the Great Lakes Region are generally attributed to Early Woodland (Adena-related) manifestations. Most descriptions of these artifacts attribute the red material to Ohio pipestone or "fire-clay." Although Sigstad's (1973) neutron activation analysis revealed that western pipestone sources were utilized for red Adena and Hopewell pipes, the Ohio source interpretation has retained popular favor among archaeologists. X-ray powder diffraction analysis of six red Adena/Hopewell pipes from Wisconsin correlated five to catlinite from southwestern Minnesota and one to Kansas pipestone. The implications of these findings verify the use of catlinite back to ca. 2500 B.P. and enhance models of western lithic import during this period of interregional exchange.

Tubular pipes from the Great Lakes region have been attributed to Late Archaic-Early Woodland manifestations by various researchers (e.g., Fitting 1970:82, 1978:40-41; Mason 1981:201-236; Quimby 1960:70). At least some of these are made of red pipestone that has been attributed to Ohio sources (e.g., Tuck, 1984:68-69; Wright 1972:40, 1979:46-47). Dragoo (1964:164) indicates that blocked-end tubular pipes of Ohio pipestone or "fire-clay" are associated with early and middle Adena in the upper Ohio Valley, dating to ca. 500 B.C. However, tubular pipes identified as having been made of "catlinite" are also recorded for the central and northern Plains in late prehistoric times (Wedel 1961:176-222; see also Beaubien 1973:57). Tubular pipes also occur from Basketmaker times to the Spanish contact in the Southwest (Ortiz 1979), including as inter-Pueblo and Pueblo-Plains trade items from such rendezvous locations as Pecos Pueblo (Schroeder 1979:430-431). Kidder (1932:85-86), in fact, identified at least one tubular pipe from Pecos as having been made of "catlinite."

Platform or monitor pipes are distinctive to the Hopewell Culture (Seeman 1977), an association that was established with Mills's (1917) description of more than 100 pipes from the Tremper Mound. Several of the Tremper Mound pipes are large platform styles and Mills (1917:132-133) attributed these and a number of red pipes from Mound City to a variant of Ohio pipestone, or "fire-clay," rather than catlinite based on early geochemical analyses. This paper summarizes red tubular and platform pipes from the Upper Midwest and examines the material source of these artifacts. Selected archaeological tube and platform pipes were analyzed using x-ray powder diffraction. The results indicate that most were manufactured from catlinite obtained in southwestern Minnesota. This reveals exploitation of the catlinite source by Early and Middle Woodland groups and adds to an inventory of western imports during this period of active exchange over much of eastern North America.

For any given lithic object, its provenance designation refers to its geologic source; an artifact can have known provenance whose lithic types match those of a given source. Many have unknown provenances until said geologic source can be recognized by diagnostic analyses. All artifacts recovered from a specific archaeological site have provenience; that is, the last place the object was when recovered. Many artifacts also have unknown proveniences. The object persists but no data were documented-or were lost subsequently.

Red Tubular and Platform Pipes from Wisconsin

At the turn of the last century, George West compiled an extensive collection of aboriginal pipes from Wisconsin and adjacent states. In the course of this effort, West recorded information, including basic provenience data for these and other pipes from the region, which he described in two major works (West 1905, 1934) before donating the collection to the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM).

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X-Ray Powder Diffraction Analysis of Early and Middle Woodland Red Pipes from Wisconsin


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