Part of the Koster Site, IL (11GE4) project

Author(s): Sarah Neusius

Year: 1982


This study uses faunal remains from Horizons 11-8A of the Koster Site, Greene County, Illinois, as the basis for examining subsistence change during the Early-Middle Archaic transition in the Midwest. Two related issues are considered. First, did significant changes in subsistence strategies occur? Second, what were the probable causes of subsistence change?

Current evidence from the lower Illinois River Valley suggests that subsistence change is closely related to changes in settlement or mobility strategies at this time. There also is some evidence that changes in resource distributions in response to the Hypsithermal Climatic Interval might have affected exploitation strategies. In the lower Illinois River Valley both a redistribution of upland resources and, eventually, an increase in the productivity of aquatic resources probably took place. When this information, along with the specifics of Midwestern faunal records, is considered expectations for Koster concerning the utilization of aquatics, the importance of large mammals, niche width, seasonality, and processing can be generated.

Faunal procurement and processing strategies for the Early Archaic, Middle Archaic 1, and Middle Archaic 2 periods at Koster can be reconstructed at least partially. These reconstructions indicate that the use of aquatic resources was intensified with respect to species preferring river and stream to backwater lake habitats. An increase in dependence on deer as opposed to smaller mammals also is suggested. The niche width appears to drop as mussel collecting, fishing, and deer hunting increase in importance. In addition, the short-term residential camps from the early part of the Koster record seem to have been occupied fortuitously during all seasons of the year. The base camps in the later part of the Koster record appear to represent summer-fall occupations. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that selectivity in processing of deer increased as a result of heavier reliance on logistical strategies.

These findings suggest that Midwestern archaeologists need to re-examine the assumption that Early Archaic economies were focal. They also indicate that a variety of factors including environmental change and changes in human demography influenced subsistence change between the Early and Middle Archaic.

Cite this Record

EARLY-MIDDLE ARCHAIC SUBSISTENCE STRATEGIES: CHANGES IN FAUNAL EXPLOITATION AT THE KOSTER SITE. Sarah Neusius. Doctoral Dissertation. Northwestern Univeristy, Department of Anthropology. 1982 ( tDAR id: 398948) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8MK6F58

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Archaic Early Archaic Middle Archaic


Site Name

Geographic Keywords
Green County, Illinois

Temporal Keywords
Archaic Early Archaic Middle Archaic

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: -6500 to -4900

Radiocarbon Date: 8450 to 6850

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.582; min lat: 39.173 ; max long: -90.495; max lat: 39.265 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Sarah Neusius

Project Director(s): Sarah Neusius

Prepared By(s): Indiana University of Penn.


General Note: The Koster faunal databases loaded in tDAR were identified by several zooarchaeologists. Frederick C. Hill and his assistants identified much of the early material collected in test units dug in 1969 as well as materials from the excavation of Horizons 1-6. Hill's 1975 dissertation (see reference list associated with this project) is a primary source for this material. Sarah W. Neusius identified faunal remains from Horizons 8-10B as well as a small sample of materials from Horizon 11. Her 1982 dissertation as well as a 1986 article (see references) are the primary sources for this material. John Hewitt created the faunal file for Horizons 8-10B identifications in conjunction with his own 1982 dissertation (see references) Andrea L. Boon completed a MA thesis on a large sample of materials from Horizon 11 and reported on this research in her 2011 thesis (see references).

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