A Day at the IUP Excavation of the Johnston site

Friday was a busy field day, so I didn’t have a chance to post about our field school at the Johnston site in Western Pennsylvania. My colleague Sarah Neusius and I are in the Anthropology Department of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. We are excavating a large Late PreContact period Native village dated to the 14th-15 th century A.D. We are about to start the last week of the six week field school. This is the 4th season we have worked at the site.

Dr. Sarah Neusius and Students during site excavation

Dr. Sarah Neusius and Students during site excavation

The site was occupied by people from the Monongahela Culture who lived in Southwestern Pennsylvania from the 13th to 17th  centuries A.D.  They are known for their circular villages, shell tempered pottery and post enclosed storage pits attached to circular houses.  The site was first discovered in the 1950s by Dr. Don Dragoo of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA.  He conducted excavations in advance of the construction of a dam on the Conemaugh River to protection Pittsburgh from flooding.  It was thought the site would be destroyed by floodwaters back up by the dam.     We began to look for the site in 2002 and discovered that it was buried by flood deposited sediment which has protected the site.  For example, deer and other animal bone is well preserved.  Deer bone is the most common type of animal bone found at the site.

Excavation of well preserved deer jaw.

Excavations have found  the large posts used to construct houses and  stockades like this one.

Profile of Large Postmold

Large stockade postmold at the Johnston site.

 

Posts in the post enclosed pits have been found as well.

After the excavation of a post enclosed pit, profiles of the posts are visible.

After the excavation of a post enclosed pit, profiles of the posts are visible.

     This reconstructed house shows how the postenclosed pit might have looked under its bark covering.

Both the house and pit might have been covered with bark.

Reconstructed Monongahela House


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