September is Indiana Archaeology Month. The Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology (DHPA) coordinates the event to encourage learning about Indiana archaeology. Universities, museums, organizations, and individuals throughout the state host a variety of programs. These can include archaeological laboratory open houses, artifact identifications, lectures on archaeological topics, archaeological excavations, and more.
Archaeology Month helps Hoosiers learn more about the discipline of archaeology, Indiana archaeological sites, and laws protecting those sites. A goal of this month is to increase public awareness and to minimize myths and misconceptions commonly associated with the science.
Archaeology Month Poster
The 2022 Indiana Archaeology Month poster focuses on the diversity of Indiana’s Late Precontact ceramics. The ceramics of the Late Precontact period (1000 to 1500 CE) of Indiana indicate that Native American groups were not static but were diverse, dynamic, and complex. (The dates for CE [Current Era] are comparable to, and a secular equivalent of, AD dates.) Pottery is only one facet of the Late Precontact world, but it can reflect social organization and interactions, including expansions and contractions, conflicts and alliances, and assimilation and independence of social groups. Archaeologists examine the different decorative styles to interpret shifting movements and cultural interactions of people through time in areas that would become Indiana and the Midwest.
This year’s design highlights examples of sherds from the Late Precontact period, and the maps indicate where within the state these ceramics generally manifest. Pottery vessels were used for cooking, serving, and storing food. The widespread adoption of pottery in the precontact record occurs approximately 2,800 years ago when people became more stationary for longer periods of time. By the Late Precontact period, ceramic manufacture had evolved, and some of the highest quality pottery with the most complex decorations occur during this time. However, precontact pottery can be fragile and is often identified from archaeological contexts as broken sherds.
Free commemorative posters (folded and unfolded) may be obtained in person at the DNR Customer Service Center in the Indiana Government Center South, Indianapolis. Hours are 8:30am – 4:00 pm, M-F. When attending Archaeology Month events, DHPA staff will also bring posters to distribute. Requests for folded posters (limit of 5 per person) to be mailed may be sent to ajohnson@dnr.IN.gov.
Choose a period on the poster and then find its description below to learn more.
- 2022 Poster Details
- Yankeetown (700 to 1200 CE) ceramics have attributes similar to Late Woodland pottery, such as globular jars with rounded bottoms and cordmarked surfaces. However, vessels were typically tempered with grog (crushed ceramic pieces) and unusual wide-mouthed bowls and pans occur. Decorative motifs including notched appliqued clay strips forming geometric patterns near the vessel’s mouth, and fine incised lines. These unique ceramics indicate emerging influences from Mississippian sites like Cahokia, the largest urban settlement of Mississippian culture, in western Illinois. Images courtesy of the Charles Lacer collection, University of Southern Indiana.
- Albee (800 to 1200 CE) pottery has collared or wedge-shaped rims, a trait that occurs across the Great Lakes region by 1000 CE. The common vessel shapes are globular jars that have cordmarked or fabric marked surfaces. Temper is usually crushed rock grit. The rims and necks of Albee vessels are often decorated in a variety of tool or cord-wrapped dowel impressions. Albee ceramics are part of the Late Woodland period that has been described as the “good gray cultures” because they fall between the more artistically, architecturally, and materially elaborate Middle Woodland Hopewell and later precontact Mississippian cultures. Images courtesy of Beth K. McCord.
- Castor (1000 to 1400 CE) ceramic decoration suggests that these central Indiana populations were influenced by Western Basin Tradition people to the northeast. The rim of the vessel could be collared or have thickened rim strips that were decorated with a variety of cord or tool impressions often in linear rows or chevron patterns. Circular punctates, dentate stamping and incised lines were also used. The exterior of the vessels was often cordmarked or fabric marked, but plain or smoothed surfaces occur. Vessels were typically globular jars and grit tempered. Image courtesy of Christy Brocken, Hamilton County Parks.
- Western Basin (1000 to 1400 CE) ceramic decoration follows a general style popular around the Great Lakes region. The ceramics that occur in the Maumee River drainage of northeast Indiana may be the result of a dispersal of populations from a core area around western Lake Erie and the Saginaw drainage or through social interactions that lead to the adoptions of the decorative styles. Western Basin vessels tend to have elongated shapes, but in Indiana are more globular in form. Vessels can have collars or thickened rims and are decorated with a variety of linear cord or tool impressions or dentate stamps. Vessels were typically grit tempered, and the exteriors were often cordmarked or fabric marked, but plain or smoothed surfaces occur. Image courtesy of Robert G. McCullough and Colin D. Graham, IPFW Archaeological Survey, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne [now Purdue Fort Wayne].
- Prather (1000 to 1450 CE) pottery is associated with the northeasternmost expression of Middle Mississippian culture and occurs around the Falls of the Ohio region. This area is between the Angel Phase to the south and west and Fort Ancient societies to the north and east, but the Prather ceramics do not indicate that much direct interaction with these groups. Prather ceramics are shell tempered and include finely made jars, bowls, and bottles. Most of the ceramics fall into broad Mississippian ceramic types termed Mississippian Plain and Bell Plain. However, there are some short rim jars with shoulders that are like styles found at Cahokia. The undecorated forms are known as Powell Plain and those decorated with incised, nested arches and chevrons on the neck region are known as Ramey Incised. Image courtesy of Cheryl Ann Munson and Robert G. McCullough, IPFW Archaeological Survey, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne [now Purdue Fort Wayne].
- Angel (1000 to 1450 CE) ceramics reflect the complex Middle Mississippian chiefdom that arose along the Ohio River after 1000 CE. Mississippian societies had large regional centers of villages, hamlets, farmsteads, religious facilities, and cemeteries. Ceramics include a variety of thin-walled well-made jars, bowls, plates, and bottles. Ground mussel shell was the predominate temper used in ceramic manufacture. Some wares were plain and lacked decoration, while others reflected interactions with populations in other regions. For example, negative painted designs of sun circles or cross-in-circles reflected contact with southeastern Mississippian groups. Image of Angel sherd X11B-2503-3 courtesy of Indiana University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Trustees of Indiana University.
- Fort Ancient (1000 to 1600 CE) culture and pottery span a long period of time and a large area primarily in Ohio and Kentucky. Early Fort Ancient ceramics are similar to Late Woodland in the use of crushed rock for temper. The vessels were typically globular jars that were cordmarked or fabric marked on the exterior. Later Fort Ancient vessels were tempered with crushed shell like many Mississippian derived pots. A hallmark of Fort Ancient pottery is a decoration of repeating curved or rectangular lines that interlocked termed guilloche. Image courtesy of Marcus Schulenburg.
- Vincennes (1050 to 1450 CE) ceramics share a number of characteristics with Late Woodland, Middle Mississippian, and Upper Mississippian styles. The most common form was an everted rim jar that was undecorated. Plain Mississippian forms such as bottles, plates and bowls occur in lower frequency. Hybrid forms that have Late Woodland (Albee) influences indicate that local populations blended and reworked Mississippian influences to suit local ideals. Both grit and shell tempering were used. Image (from Heaton Farm (12GR122) report by Joshua J. Wells, 2004) courtesy of Indiana University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Trustees of Indiana University.
- Oliver (1100 to 1450 CE) is a decorative mix of styles with affinities to Fort Ancient and Western Basin that occur on the same vessel. For example, a linear cord-impressed design was applied to the rim or lip of the vessel, and a curvilinear guilloche was applied to the neck area. This co-occurrence of styles is considered the defining characteristic of the Oliver Phase. Vessels were typical globular jars, but a few bowl forms are also noted in Oliver Phase assemblages. Some rims were set at sharply everted or outward slanting angles to the body of the vessel. Grit and shell tempering were used in Oliver ceramics. Image courtesy of Eric Edelbrock, Gray & Pape, and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
- Oneota (1250 to 1450 CE) ceramics are identified over an expansive geographic region in the prairies of the Upper Midwest. During the thirteenth century widespread movements of Oneota (also called Upper Mississippian) peoples into areas they had not previously occupied occurred. Oneota ceramics occur in northwestern Indiana and in smaller pockets in central and southwestern Indiana. Typical Oneota vessels are shell tempered, wide-bodied, open-mouthed jars with short horizontal or everted rims. The vessel walls are quite thin compared to earlier ceramic types. Appendages, when they occur, are usually loop handles. Decorative motifs were typically executed as narrow fine line incising or broad trailing and punctations. Image courtesy of Donald R. Cochran.
- Caborn-Welborn (1350 to 1700 CE) ceramics at the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio rivers are a mixture of Mississippian and southern relationships but influenced by northern Oneota societies. Caborn-Welborn is thought to be a restructuring of populations after the abandonment of Angel Phase settlements. Vessel forms are like Angel ceramics, but distinctive designs of triangular areas and chevrons were applied using incised or trailed lines and punctates. Appendages, when used, were thin strap handles. European trade goods such as copper ornaments and glass beads found at sites with Caborn-Welborn ceramics indicate the beginning of interactions with non-Indigenous populations in Indiana. Images courtesy of Charles Lacer collection, University of Southern Indiana.
Information for Event Hosts
The Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology will produce and distribute a press release regarding Indiana Archaeology Month. Other avenues of publicity utilized by the DHPA include: e-mail, the DHPA and DNR Facebook pages, and Preservation at the Crossroads- DHPA's e-newsletter.
The DHPA Calendar of Events webpage will post the complete calendar of events taking place around the state. Event hosts may refer the public to this page for information about the Month.
Event hosts are encouraged to cultivate as much local publicity for their events as possible. We suggest contacting local papers, radio stations, etc. for possible advertising options.
The DHPA has many educational materials available free of charge. If event hosts wish to have any of these items to help with publicity, or to hand out during the event, feel free to download as many as you like. Postage costs will be charged if physical copies are needed. Payment must be received prior to mailing any items.
If possible, we request that after Archaeology Month, event hosts provide the Division with summary information regarding their events. Information such as attendance numbers, comments regarding activities, suggestions for future events, etc. is very helpful for the Division staff to learn about and improve upon the continuing successes of Indiana Archaeology Month and public archaeology outreach.