Survey and Testing

Systematic surveys and test excavations at Bone Bank were supported by matching-fund grants from the Historic Preservation Fund (administered by NPS and the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology).
Collecting artifacts and soil samples
Mapping topography, exposed artifacts, strata, and features

Artifact and feature distributions and geomorphology indicated Mississippian deposits in three depositional settings:

  • midden deposits in a filled-in swale on the north, now covered by historic alluvium;
  • pit features on the eroded and deflated remnant of a late Pleistocene terrace in the center; and
  • pit features and midden deposits on the now-buried lakeshore at the south, also covered by historic alluvium.
Initial test excavation on the riverbank documented sealed Mississippian midden deposits with Caborn-Welborn phase artifacts. Several Late Woodland ceramics were also found at the base of the deposit.    
Excavation of flotation samples from pit features exposed on the riverbank showed that, while the cemeteries and residential areas on the high ground had been eroded away, some village features still remained. Most pit features contained Caborn-Welborn phase materials.

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Reconstruction of the Environment
Distributions of dated archaeological sites within the alluvial floodplain show that Bone Bank was occupied by Mississippians after the Cypress Slough lake had formed and the river channel had migrated far west of the site. Therefore, the environmental setting at Bone Bank was comparable to other large Caborn-Welborn villages - the Murphy and Hovey Lake sites, and perhaps Slack Farm - with communities located adjacent to a backwater lake or swamp, rather than on the main channel of the river. The economic setting for a major segment of the Caborn-Welborn population was the strategic situation of larger communities next to the "grocery stores"(the lakes) but off the "main highway" (the rivers).

Reconstruction of the geomorphic history - based on stratigraphy, regional topography, soils, and air photos - shows that lateral channel migrations of the Wabash River created and then filled in the lake. Today it is a swamp known as Cypress Slough, a backwater that is still rich in fish and edible tubers.

Survey & Testing Results: Assessment of Contexts and Preservation

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