The Bennac Village site is a historic site that is now located within a private wildlife park. This historic village was inhabited by Potawatomi Indians and Roman Catholic "metis" (mixed French Canadian/Native American) around A.D. 1830. The field work located a prehistoric camp dating around A.D. 1300 and the possible site of a cabin.
The location of the Bennac Village site was first recorded by land surveyors in 1834. The village location is depicted by the cluster of triangles near the northern-most loop in the river (highlighted here with a red box). An important local trail passed through the village because the river could be forded at that point.
The site is now part of a nature preserve but it was farmed for many years. The first year's investigations (in 1996) were designed to determine if the site had been destroyed. Most of the site has returned to natural vegetation or is maintained in grass. The 1996 investigations included mapping, shovel probing, magnetic surveys, and test excavations. The test excavations were concentrated in a field at the south end of the site. The 1997 investigations consisted of magnetic and resistivity surveys of most of the south field, surface surveys of wildlife food plots, and the excavation of four units to test geophysical anomalies identified during the geophysical surveys.
Investigations in 1997 concentrated on the southern end of the Potawatomi Wildlife Park in a field south of the Nature Center and the Manager's Cabin.
The geophysical surveys covered an area 80 m by 40 meters (total area of 3,200 m2). The magnetometer survey used sample intervals (spacing between data points) of 0.25 m in the E-W direction and transect intervals (spacing in the N-S direction) of 0.5 m to collect 25,600 data points). The extremely intense magnetic anomalies are historic and modern features. Excavation units were placed to test areas with small metallic scatters and to test a weak, diffuse magnetic anomaly (indicated with the letters A to D in the figure below). The geophysical maps were made with TNT-Lite from Microimages after pre-filtering.
Magnetic Survey Results:
The intense magnetic anomalies in the upper right and left corners were produced by septic tanks serving modern buildings at the site. The tile field from the septic tank on the right is clearly visible as three parallel blue lines. This was an area to be avoided during excavation! The two large bipolar anomalies (paired postive and negative signals, indicated by purple and red) in the lower center were produced by metal poles supporting two birdhouses (occuppied at the time, so they could not be removed for the survey).
Each of the four student teams selected an area to test. Teams "A" and "B" tested metallic scatters revealed by dipolar (postive/negative) anomalies below the respective letters. Both of these proved to be scatters of recent metal.
Anomaly C, the orange-red blob below the letter, was a diffuse anomaly of moderate intensity. These are often characteristic of prehistoric fire places, and this case was typical. Feature 1, the remnant of a firepit with abundant charcoal and fire-cracked rock, was found in this location. No datable artifacts were found, so it is not known if the fire pit dates to the prehistoric or the historic period. The abundant charcoal may eventually yield a radiocarbon date.
Mapping Feature 1 and the feature in plan view. Note charcoal stain and large burned rocks.
Resistivity Survey Results:
Glazed brick and pottery fragments dating to early 19th century were found in the surface scatters.
Investigations in 1998 will complete the geophysical surveys of the south field, extend the geophysical surveys into the food plots, and conduct test excavations in the historic scatters found in 1997.
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