How Archeological Investigations Have Affected Our Historical Knowledge
Author(s): R. L. Stephenson
Archeological investigations have been in progress in the Missouri Basin for over half a century. These investigations have consisted of the locating, excavating and interpreting of the fragmentary evidence of human occupation in the Great Plains during the past 10,000 years. Such evidence includes the remains of prehistoric Indian villages, camps, burial grounds, quarries, pictographs and hunting spots. It also includes remnants of historic White military and trading posts. Relics of this long sequence of human occupation consist of pottery fragments, arrow points, bone and stone tools, shell ornaments and fragments of basketry, and wooden or skin implements of the prehistoric period. They also consist of gun parts and broken metal tools and utensils of the historic period. Most of these artifacts are broken and only fragments survive for the archeologist. Even less complete are the remains of houses, burials, camps and fortifications. Of these the archeologist usually is able to find only the holes in which the house posts and stockade posts were set, and the filled-in ditches that formed moats around the stockaded villages. He finds only ash-filled hearths of ancient campfires, the village trash dumps, the filled-in storage pits, and the decomposed bones of the human burials. Yet from these fragments of the past, the archeologist is able to piece together a rather complete story of how these people lived in the Great Plains. He has learned what they ate, what their dwellings were like, how they defended themselves against their enemies, and how they met problems of drought, disease and famine. He has learned how they worked, dressed and did the everyday chores of ordinary living, and even something of what the people themselves looked like.
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Cite this Record
How Archeological Investigations Have Affected Our Historical Knowledge. R. L. Stephenson. 1954 ( tDAR id: 394094) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8CF9S75
min long: -111.094; min lat: 40.581 ; max long: -89.385; max lat: 48.922 ;
Individual & Institutional Roles
Contact(s): Anne Vawser
Contributor(s): R. L. Stephenson
Sponsor(s): River Basin Surveys, Smithsonian Institution ; National Parks Service ; Army Corps of Engineers ; bureau of reclamation ; Inter-Agency Archeological and Paleontological Salvage Program ; Missouri Basin Project
General Note: Multiple tDAR resources were created in the past by the National Archaeological Database. All useful and important information has been combined into this current resource.
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