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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

1. Prehistoric and historic Native American occupation,   pp. 1-42


Page 1

Prehistoric and Historic
Native American Occupation
Scott Shaffer
he area that is now the City of Janesville has been permanently occupied by Euro-
Americans for 162 years. It was probably visited periodically as early as the late
seventeenth century by European explorers. But before the first European explorers
entered what is now Wisconsin, this area was the home to various groups of Native Americans
for perhaps 10,000 years or more. These groups left a record of their presence in artifacts of
stone, clay, and bone and in the numerous earthworks that are still prominent features along the
Rock River.
Archeologists divide the prehistory of eastern North America into basic stages representing
general levels of technological and social development that occurred at approximately the
same time over a broad area. While researchers may differ on the specific traits that
characterized each stage and the specific time periods generally associated with them, there
is general agreement on the basic cultural outline. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to fully
outline and describe the entire American Indian occupation of Rock County. The overall
framework is presented below in an attempt to familiarize the reader with the general
sequence of occupation associated with the Janesville area.
Early Paleoindian             12,000-9000 B.P.
Late Paleoindian              10,500-7000 B.P.
Archaic Tradition             8500-2500 B.P.
Early Archaic                 8500-7000 B.P.
Middle Archaic                7000-5000 B.P.
Late Archaic                  5000-3000 B.P.
Terminal Archaic              3500-2500 B.P.
Woodland Tradition            3000-400 B.P.
Early Woodland                3000-2300 B.P.
Middle Woodland               2300-1700 B.P.
Late Woodland                 1700-400 B.P.
Mississippian Tradition       1000-600 B.P.
Oneota Tradition              1000400 B.P.
These cultural manifestations are described in detail in the Introduction to Wisconsin
Archeology management plan (Green et al 1986), as well as in various regional archeological
survey reports prepared by the Historic Preservation Division of the State Historical Society
of Wisconsin. Additional information concerning specific periods of Wisconsin's prehistoric era
can be found in various volumes of The Wisconsin Archeologist and in cultural resource
management reports.
Information concerning specific sites can be found at the Historic Preservation Office of the
State Historical Society. A review of the site records undertaken in October 1996 indicated 45
previously identified archeological sites located within Janesville and the immediate area. A
total of 54 separate components were defined at the 45 sites. These components have been
broken down by site type and temporal period in Table 1.
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
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