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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 6

The Late Archaic period in the eastern U.S. was one of cultural and population advance. It
coincided with cooler environmental conditions similar to those of today. The subsistence
pattern at this time saw the intensification of the broad-based exploitative pattern noted in
the Middle Archaic. In some areas, the subsistence base was more focused on the intensive
exploitation of fish, shellfish, or nuts. The use of these rich and staple resources led to larger
populations living in stable, but mobile communities. Sites such as Indian Knoll in Kentucky,
the Boyleston Fish Weir in Massachusetts, and numerous other examples in the Eastern
Woodlands and the Mississippi Valley suggest the presence of larger communities with a more
stable settlement pattern. A greater cultural complexity has been demonstrated by Late
Archaic sites. Mortuary objects indicate a trade in status goods including copper and seashells.
The development of traits that were to become more important in later times also began. These
traits included the use of steatite and ceramic vessels in the southeastern U.S., the construction
of earthworks at such sites as Poverty Point in Louisiana, and the use of local and imported
cultigens at several midwestern sites.
In Wisconsin, the period following 1200 B.C. witnessed a notable decline in the use of native
copper to manufacture everyday tools. While copper awls and an occasional copper knife are
found on Late Archaic sites, copper was being used mainly for personal adornment in the form of
beads and ear ornaments (Stoltman 1986:227). Accompanying the decline in the use of copper in
Wisconsin was a shift in projectile point styles to generally stemmed forms. Similar point
styles have a broad distribution in the northeastern U.S. from New York to Michigan. Little
copper or polished stone has been confidently associated with stemmed points in Wisconsin,
leading researchers to believe certain stemmed points represent an influx of outside influences
from the east or southeast (Stoltman 1986:228). Evidence of Late Archaic occupations in Rock
County includes the Two Mile Bridge site located within the Janesville city limits. Projectile
points and chipped, ground, battered, and pecked stones have been recovered from this site.
Aboriginal ceramics were also recovered but were not associated with the Archaic occupation.
This village site is located along the east bank of the Rock River north and south of Highway
14 and is currently threatened by riverbank erosion and vandalism by local collectors (ASI
1993).
A relatively brief stage between the Late Archaic and Woodland traditions has been
recognized in Wisconsin. Sites of the Terminal Archaic are frequently identified as mortuary
sites, which demonstrate an intensification of mortuary-related ritualism. In the western
Great Lakes, such manifestations may be represented by the Red Ocher and Glacial Kame
complexes. In Wisconsin, these sites are primarily found in the eastern portion of the state and
are largely represented by burials. The Convent Knoll site (Overstreet 1980) in Waukesha
County is one of the few professionally excavated Red Ocher sites in the state. Many aspects of
the Red Ocher complex are reminiscent of Old Copper, including the interment of the dead in a
flexed position in a pit typically dug into a natural ridge or knoll. A possible innovation of the
Red Ocher Complex in Wisconsin is the construction of earthen burial mounds. These have been
reported but were excavated by amateurs using uncontrolled methods. The grave goods buried
with individuals follow the Old Copper pattern of unequal distribution, implying status
differences. Red Ocher in Wisconsin also incorporated the extensive importation of exotic
cherts. Polished stone artifacts, while not abundant, also occur, as do necklaces and gorgets of
imported marine shell. Elongate ceremonial spear points with tapering sides and flat bases are
also diagnostic of Red Ocher. While they may be present, no sites of the Terminal Archaic
Period have been identified within or near Janesville.
The Woodland Tradition saw the further technological and social development of the Archaic
cultures. It was marked by the presence of ceramics, village life, mound construction, and the
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
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