The Recovered Collections

Recovered data sets from Caborn-Welborn phase contexts include: radiocarbon dates, bone, lithics, ceramics, plant remains, and impressed fabric structures. Analysis examined temporal change at Bone Bank and comparison with other analyzed assemblages to identify cultural changes over several centuries of the Caborn-Welborn phase.

Comparisons with earlier Mississippian assemblages helped to highlight the distinctive character of Caborn-Welborn material culture.


Interpretation of 14C assays is hampered by fluctuations in the late prehistoric calibrations curve, which often produce two or more calendrical intercepts per sample.

  • Bone Bank was established early in the Caborn-Welborn phase, about A.D. 1400, when several other large villages - Murphy, Hovey Lake, Slack Farm - also became settled.
  • The social and political landscape was greatly changing at this time, since the neighboring Angel phase chiefdom was collapsing.
  • Compared to other Caborn-Welborn phase sites, the recovered assemblages from Bone Bank date earlier on average and to a shorter interval. However, the excavated basal middens and features may not be representative of the temporal duration of the residential and mortuary areas of this village that were eroded away by the late 1800s.

Faunal remains, identified by Rexford Garniewicz (Indiana State Museum), are unfortunately poorly preserved in most midden contexts, but present in pit features located along the former lakeshore. Features contained mammal, turtle, fish, and bird, with the percentage of fish being the most variable between features. This variation probably represents seasonal differences in procurement, with intensive fishing taking place in the late spring and summer, but tapering off in the fall when other resources become more efficient.

Macrobotanical Remains

Analysis by Leslie Bush showed:

  • nutshell in the middens declined while corn substantially increased over time;
  • SEM helped identify small amounts of Chenopodium berlandieri;
  • one seed of American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) indicates use of plants from the backwater lake and sloughs;
  • Correspondence Analysis of plant remains supported the expectation, based on dating, that Bone Bank would be more similar to Hovey Lake and Slack Farm, and least similar to Caborn; and
  • CA also distinguished Caborn-Welborn plant remains from earlier Mississippian assemblages.

  • The lithic assemblage is comparatively small and dominated by local cherts.
  • Among the widely exchanged lithic materials used for hoes and other chert tools, Dover chert is more common than Mill Creek and other non-local cherts.


Analysis of ceramic types and attributes from midden deposits showed:

  • Caborn-Welborn Decorated and other rare ceramic types increased over time;
  • bowl orifice diameters increased;
  • handles were predominantly intermediate straps; and
  • Correspondence Analysis of ceramic types showed that Bone Bank is more similar to Hovey Lake and Slack Farm and least similar to Caborn (consistent with distributions of radiocarbon dates and CA of plant remains).

These CA results indicated that seriation would reveal other temporal ceramic changes.

Within the Caborn-Welborn phase, seriation results show the most distinctive variation is the increase over time in the proportions of Caborn-Welborn Decorated and Kimmswick Plain, and a corresponding decrease in Old Town Red, Kimmswick Fabric Impressed, Kincaid Net Impressed, and Misc. Cord Marked.

Fabric Structures

Analysis of fabric impressions by A. Gwynn Henderson identified temporal changes within the midden levels at Bone Bank:

  • slight increases over time in knotting;
  • slight decreases in both plain twining alone and alternate pair twining alone, as well as twining with interlinked warps; and
  • marked increase over time in the more complex fabrics having combined structures.

Kimmswick fabric-impressed, complete "pan" (upside down), Lesueur's 1828 drawing

Correspondence Analysis compared proportions of fabric structures from four Caborn-Welborn sites with each other, as well as with assemblages from ten earlier Mississippian sites in the Southeastern U.S. The results showed that:

  • Bone Bank is more similar to Hovey Lake and Slack Farm than to Caborn (comparable to ceramic types, plant remains, and radiocarbon dates);
  • Caborn-Welborn sites form a tight group compared to earlier Mississippian sites; and
  • a higher proportion of combined fabric structures, grouped twining rows, knotting, and twining with interlinked warps distinguish the late Mississippian from the earlier Mississippian sites.

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