The rescue excavation assemblages from the Bone Bank archaeological site represent late Mississippian Caborn-Welborn phase artifacts and residues associated with village life at the mouth of the Wabash River, ca. A.D. 1400. These materials date to a more limited time-span than other Caborn-Welborn phase sites, and the average dates are the earliest for the phase.

The investigated contexts were situated at the margin of a large village that was more than 99% destroyed by erosion along the riverbank. The historically-famous cemeteries had washed away in the early 1900s, and the residential area of the village was destroyed not long thereafter. In addition to lateral erosion, the highest remnants of the site had been truncated vertically, so that the only features remaining on high ground were the bottoms of pits and postholes. Any palisade walls that might have been present in this area would have been scoured off years ago. Low-lying cultural deposits in two areas -- within a deep swale and at the shore of the former lake -- were preserved by thick caps of historic alluvium. Riverbank profiles and block excavations documented sealed Mississippian strata. Both the swale midden and the lakeshore midden were situated at the site's eastern edge.


Despite the proximity of the river today, geomorphic study showed that the village was established adjacent to a backwater lake, and the Wabash River channel was 1.5 km distant.

Because the Bone Bank assemblages are early within the Caborn-Welborn phase, they provide significant data sets for understanding regional temporal variation in plant use, ceramic styles, and fabrics. They further help distinguish Caborn-Welborn from earlier Mississippian sites with respect to plant use and fabric structures.

The results of the rescue investigations are an important complement to the large collection of artifacts from Bone Bank's mortuary component that is curated at the National Museum of the American Indian.
These materials, together with the records of the rescu investigations, will soon be the only surviving testaments to one of the main villages of the Caborn-Welborn phase.

Two years after backfilling the southernmost rescue excavation block, the river had cut into that area of the site.

Previous Page
Table of Contents