The Goodall Tradition Project:

     Northwestern Indiana Hopewell




The Goodall Tradition: Northwestern Indiana Hopewell


    The Goodall tradition was a prehistoric Middle Woodland culture that inhabited northwestern Indiana between about 200 B.C. to A.D. 400. The Middle Woodland period is often known as the time of the "Moundbuilders" for the many mounds that were constructed then. This project is gathering the first professional data on the Goodall tradition in over half a century. This project uses geophysical surveys and carefully focused excavations to explore the prehistory of the tradition, with a special emphasis on understanding connections between changes in subsistence, exchange, and social interactions during the tradition's rise and fall.


    During this portion of the field school, you will learn the basic techniques of prehistoric archaeology. William Mangold, an archaeologist with the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, will give guest lectures on Goodall archaeology and professional employment in the public sector.

    Although many of Goodall tradition sites once contained mounds, they have been all but destroyed by years of cultivation and looting. The field school excavations concentrate on locating habitation areas and other types of non-burial features that can be used to date the occupations and provide evidence about the daily activities (diet, housing, tool manufacture, etc.) that occurred there. Geophysical surveys are used extensively to locate excavation areas that will provide the desired information without disturbing burials. The year 2000 to 2002 excavations were conducted at the Mud Lake site, a site with relatively dense soil which helps to provide good preservation of charcoal which can be used for radiocarbon dating. Carbonized plant remains can also provide information about the types of plants that were collected and eaten.

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On the left, Bill Mangold points out some potential features while national flags fly on the back dirt pile in honor of the international experiences of our field crew. This unit contained a a layer of midden (soil mixed with prehistoric garbage). We also found evidence of disturbance by plowing and evidence of earlier, uncontrolled and unrecorded excavations at the site (probably from artifact hunters). Such excavations would be illegal in Indiana today (all excavations for artifacts, including those by archaeologists, require a permit from Indiana's Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology ).

    Artifacts typically found at Mud Lake (on the left) incude decorated Hopewellian pottery and stone tools indicating the site was occupied between about 200 B.C. and A.D. 1, before the Hopewellian (or "Mound Builder") cultures were at their peak. By around A.D. 200 at a time when Hopewellian interactions were most intense, plain pottery (right, bottom row) was made locally while decorated styles were imported from Illinois (right, top row).

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    The 2004 investigaitons will continue to investigate an area on the western end of the site that was first examined by geophysical surveys in 1999 and that was the location of preliminary excavations in 2003.


    The 2002 investigations were designed to complete units on the eastern edge of the site that had not been completed in earlier field seasons. The 2001 investigations continued to search for intact features that could provide information about daily activities at the site. Carbon for radiocarbon dating was of special interest.


Julia and Candace remove the disturbed plowzone levels.

ml2002_3.jpg Shaun and Mike plot a floor map.


Surface reconnaissance surveys were conducted to locate new areas for future investigation - we hoped to find one under the irrigation sprinkler on a very hot day!






The students from the NSF Summer Program in Biocultural Anthropology came and visited us for a day to help us with the screening.


A typical field school lunch - the exquisite pleasure of “dining on the buckets.”


 Future investigations will seek more plant remains from the midden and additional artifacts to from new portion of the site to better refine our understanding of chronology and trade networks during the earlier part of the Middle Woodland period.

This site is also a great location to learn about prehistoric archaeology and appropriate excavation techniques. As you can see, it is the perfect place to learn how to dig a square hole.


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