A Swift Creek Site in southern Indiana

Submitted by Dean Wood (wdeanwood@southres.com)

In September 2006, Leake Site Principal Investigators Scot Keith and Dean Wood took a trip to Indiana in order to conduct research into the Mann site, a Middle Woodland Hopewell site located in southwestern Indiana. This site is notable due to the presence (and abundance) of Swift Creek complicated stamped pottery, as well as sand tempered simple stamped wares very similar to Cartersville simple stamped pottery. The site has long been known to contain Swift Creek type pottery, recognized by such archaeologists as James Kellar and Bret Ruby. As the Swift Creek complicated stamped pottery tradition is not endemic to that region, its presence indicates a connection between Swift Creek and the Midwestern Hopewellian peoples. Our research was designed to investigate this connection.

We examined the Mann site collections held at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology at Indiana University in Bloomington and the private collection owned by Charles Lacer in Evansville. We took with us photographs of numerous selected Swift Creek sherds from Leake in order to search for potential design matches with the examples from Mann. While no exact design matches were found, we did come away with several interesting observations. Many of the complicated stamped design elements are shared between the sites, yet one design common at Leake—the barred oval—is rare at Mann. Furthermore, we noted numerous examples of the zigzagged Crooked River design at Mann, which is common in the Gulf Coastal and southwestern Georgia region, and conversely absent at Leake. An early Swift Creek pottery rim trait—deep and closely spaced rounded notches (often referred to as notched or scalloped)—is very common for the complicated stamped rim sherds from Mann, and this rim form is common at Leake as well.

As documented by Ruby, the Swift Creek complicated stamped wares from Mann are produced using a grog/clay tempered paste, while the simple stamped wares are sand tempered. Petrographic analysis conducted on the Mann site sherds indicates that the complicated stamped wares are produced locally, while the simple stamped wares are non-local—the materials suggesting a Southeastern origin. While assembling Leake sherds for a petrographic study shortly after returning from this research trip, Mr. Keith noted a complicated stamped notched rim sherd which was extremely similar to the Mann site examples, particularly in terms of paste temper and texture. This sherd was submitted to Dr. James Stoltman for petrographic analysis in order to see if there may be a direct connection between these two significant sites. The results from the petrographic analysis indicate that this sherd probably did derive from the Mann site, as may a small rocker stamped rim sherd we recovered!

Another ceramic variety recovered from the Mann site consisted of diamond shaped checks, each with a raised square or circle within. Examples of this type are also known from Hopewell sites in Ohio (such as Seip, Rockhold, Harness, and Turner), as well as from contemporaneous Southeastern sites having Hopewellian assemblages. Such sherds have been found at the Miner’s Creek site and 9Hy98 near Atlanta, Mandeville in southwest Georgia, and the Yearwood site in southern Tennessee. We feel that this variety may be related to the unidentified decorated type at Leake.

Our road trip demonstrated some very significant long distance connections (450 straight line miles) between the Swift Creek heartland in the central Georgia and southern Indiana as well as connections between the Leake and Mann sites specifically. More details and some illustrations of the connections can be found by clicking here.