OSA Brown Bag: The Grateful Dead: A GIS Approach to Determining the Correlation Between Habitation Sites and Burial Sites in the Woodland Period in Iowa

Presentation by Rebekah (Truhan) Podolefsky

A powerful function of GIS is to look at spatial distributions of different components of settlement systems. During the Woodland Period, there appears to have been fundamental changes in economic and social organization, during the transition from hunting and gathering to substantial dependence on maize agriculture. Increasing dependence on maize agriculture appears to be correlated with increases in population and number of sites in the Late Woodland. What is less clear is the relationship between the number of burial mounds and the decreasing prominence of elite burials. While there has been an abundant amount of research conducted in locating mounds and burial sites using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, there has been very little research done in looking at the correlation between burial sites and habitation sites in the Midwest region of North America. This project focuses on the Woodland period in the state of Iowa, which lasted from 500 B.C. to 1000 A.D., and will look at how the spatial distribution of these sites changes from the Early, Middle, and Late Woodland periods. This will be done by using the program Arc GIS, and the 1,412 distinct habitation and burial sites currently recorded in Iowa.

Rebekah is a laboratory technician for the Office of the State Archaeologist and received her B.A. in Anthropology with a focus in Cultural Resources Management from the University of Iowa in December 2017. She hopes to go on to pursue her M.A. in bio-archaeology.

Brown Bags at the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) is a semi-regular  series where OSA staff and guests share their research over the noon hour. Topics include individuals’ areas of interest, work in the field, developments in archaeology and architectural history throughout Iowa and the Midwest. Guest speakers whose expertise is in other areas pertaining to archaeology or ethnohistory may be invited throughout the year as well. For more information please go to http://archaeology.uiowa.edu/

These presentations are free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to  engage in discussion and exchange following the presentation. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Office of the State Archaeologist in advance at (319) 384-0732.


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