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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Archaeology Terms

Copper Serpent

August 8, 2019

This unusual serpent pendent was found in the early 2000s during excavations at the Sanford Archaeological District in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It is made of sheet copper hammered to a thickness of only .6 mm. The overall piece is 26.5…

Pearlware Transfer Print Platter

July 25, 2019

Fragments of at least 49 pearlware vessels were recovered during the 1999 excavations at Second Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. These included undecorated pearlware vessels along with decorations such as transfer print, hand painted, annular designed, and edged…

Bird – Carved Shale-Like Stone

July 18, 2019

The area’s earliest inhabitants used many different materials for art, but in Wisconsin wood, leather and basketry have not survived. Pictured is a carved shale-like stone bird recovered from an Oneota habitation site located north of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Elk Pelvis with Embedded Projectile Point

July 11, 2019

Preston Rockshelter in Grant County, Wisconsin, was partially excavated by the late Harris A. Palmer and students from the University of Wisconsin–Platteville in the 1960s. Several thousand animal remains from the site were analyzed in the mid-1970s and recently published in The Wisconsin Archeologist*. Shown here…

Food Utensil

June 20, 2019

During the 1999 excavations at Second Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, 31 food utensils were found in the Enlisted Men’s Quarters, the Boardwalk outside the Enlisted Men’s Quarters, the Officers’ Quarters, and the privy. Of the utensils found, 17…

Pipestone Pipe Stem

June 6, 2019

In 2006, a pipe stem made of red pipestone was found in an early 1830s to 1840s privy in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. It does not appear to be Minnesota catlinite or Barron County pipestone, but rather seems to be…

Domestic Dogs in Precontact North America Societies

May 23, 2019

Origin and Timing of Dogs in North America* Recent genetic evidence indicates that dogs were likely domesticated from a wolf ancestor some 17,000 years before the present (YBP) in Europe or East Asia, and were widespread in the Siberian-Bering Land…

Torch – Birch Bark

May 2, 2019

Remnants of birch bark torches litter the relatively undisturbed margins of the floor of Tainter cave in southwestern Wisconsin. Many are burned to small fragments that were probably discarded. Several larger fragments, including a nearly complete torch, could have been…

Anomalous Globular Vessels – Chevrons or Zig-Zags

April 25, 2019

This vessel was recovered in the early 2000s at the Sanford Archaeological District in La Crosse, Wisconsin. This smaller, thin-walled vessel has a paste that contains very finely crushed shell. It also has a short rim (21 mm) that is…

Stoneware Jug/Storage Vessel

April 18, 2019

One almost complete stoneware jug or storage vessel was recovered during the 2006 excavation of an early 1840s into the 1860s privy in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.  It has a gray saltglazed exterior, with an Albany slipped (dark brown) interior.…