In 1983 and 1984, Dr. Clark Dobbs excavated the Bryan archaeological site which is located in the Red Wing region of Minnesota. The site, which is just under a thousand years in age, covers an area of more than 20 acres and includes dense clusters of features and artifacts. An approximately 1.6 acre area yielded a total of 558 pit features, more than 166,000 artifacts, and more than 129 kg. of bone and charcoal. Excavation indicated that a palisade surrounded the entire site. Crucial to understanding site function is the need to control its chronology. It is necessary to determine whether the entire area was occupied at a single time and, thus, sustained a large population or whether the sites results from smaller numbers of individuals who were present for a longer period of time. With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Dobbs will have a series of carefully selected charcoal samples radiocarbon dated. High precision counting at the University of Washington laboratory will permit materials to be dated to within ca. 20 years. The broader significance of the project lies in what it will reveal about the interaction of prehistoric Native American groups. This general time period saw the rise of large chiefdoms based further South near St. Louis in the Mississippi Valley. These "Mississippian cultures" constructed large ceremonial mounds, engaged in long distance trade, and controlled the labor of large groups. It is unclear, however, just how far their influence extended and how direct it was. The Red Wing area was clearly affected by Mississippian culture, and the hunters and gatherers in southern Minnesota were rapidly transformed in a short period of time. This project will help Dr. Dobbs to understand how this transformation took place. This research is important because it will increase our understanding of Native American prehistory. It will also shed additional insight on how complex cultures evolve.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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Institute for Minnesota Archaeology
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