By: Kevin C. Nolan, Brian G. Redmond, and Christina R. Spielbauer
Principal Investigators: Brian G. Redmond and Kevin C. Nolan
Reports of Investigation 85, Applied Anthropology Laboratories, Ball State University
Archaeological Research Reports No. 165, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

PDF of Report, Redacted Version


Drs. Brian G. Redmond and Kevin C. Nolan undertake an investigation of community structure at three northern Ohio habitation sites: White Fort (33Ln2), a multi-component, Late Prehistoric (Sandusky Tradition) site in Lorain County; Burrell Orchard (33Ln15), a multi-component site with a substantial Late Archaic component in Lorain County; and Heckleman (33Er14), a multi-component Woodland Period enclosure and habitation in Erie County. We explore the application of an inexpensive and less-invasive method of discovering community patterning that may help in building a robust sample of sites with known community structure in order to address a variety of anthropological questions at a regional scale. In this pilot study we employ systematic soil phosphate and soil magnetic susceptibility analysis on these three northeast Ohio archaeological sites. This is the first such effort in the Lake Erie basin to combine soil phosphate and magnetic susceptibility surveys to understand site structure.

Ohio archaeology saw early application of soil phosphate analysis; however, after a series of equivocal applications in the early 1980s little or no use was made of this avenue of investigation as an independent source of information about local or regional activity patterning. Meanwhile geochemistry has proven extremely useful for prospecting and activity pattern analysis in a variety of contexts. Analytical techniques have improved since the 1980s, and phosphate is once again being employed in Ohio. Our investigation demonstrates the promise and problems of this analytical technique and we shed light on the applicability of this method of prospection to the Lake Erie Basin of Ohio. Especially when used in a multi-pronged research design, soil analysis is a powerful supplement to traditional techniques and enables whole-site analysis without full excavation.