What's New at Woodpecker Cave: Down into the Woodland


Friday, February 21, 2014 - 6:00am to 7:00am


Office of the State Archaeologist, 700 Clinton Street Building, University of Iowa

The interior of Woodpecker Cave was largely excavated in 1956 by Warren Caldwell in connection with the Smithsonian Institution's River Basin Survey and the construction of the Coralville Reservoir dam. The University of Iowa archaeological field school has begun a more detailed exploration of that site to answer questions raised about the stratigraphy and the occupational history of the site. In the summers of 2012 and 2013, we have explored part of Caldwell's back-dirt and determined where intact archaeological deposits were not disturbed by the 1956 excavation. Field school students have learned to use a battery of modern techniques for excavation, recording, mapping and analysis for the exploration of the occupation surface at the top of the talus slope. We have discovered a reasonably intact occupation horizon dating to the middle to late Late Woodland, indicated by diagnostic ceramics and lithics. Students have also been using portable X-Ray Florescence analysis to explore the chemical composition of lithic raw materials and fire-cracked rocks, as a guide to potential refitting. Ecofact, artifact and spatial analyses point to a late fall to winter occupation by small groups dispersed from summer farming villages. Deeper testing on the slope suggest the potential of an older occupation some 30 cm deeper, dating to early Late Woodland. Exposure of that level will be the goal of the 2014 field school excavations.

Jim Enloe is Professor of Anthropology and currently chair of the Department of Anthropology at The University of Iowa. He has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of New Mexico. His research career has focused on prehistoric hunter-gatherers, from PaleoIndians in the Southwest to Upper Paleolithic Magdalenian reindeer hunters and Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals in France, and Middle and Later Stone Age occupations in Namibia.
Brown Bags at the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) is a semi-regular Friday noon 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 ethno history may be invited throughout the year as well.

The OSA Brown Bag Series is free and open to the public. Presentations begin at noon. Attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch and engage in discussion following the presentation. For more information about presenting or attending please contact www.uiowa.edu/~osa or Maria Schroeder: maria-schroeder@uiowa.edu; (319) 384-0974. 


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