Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology
Stuart Struever's excavation of the Kuhne site, located in the Upper Illinois River Valley occurred during the start of archaeological interest in the region. The faunal remains recovered during this excavation offer a unique opportunity to understand subsistence strategies in the area during the Middle Woodland period. Using standard zooarchaeological methods, these remains were analyzed to better understand which animal species were targeted by Middle Woodland people in this region, which season(s) the site was occupied, and how bones were modified for utilitarian and other purposes. These findings were then compared to faunal assemblages from Middle Woodland sites in the Central and Lower Illinois River Valley, the Rench and Apple Creek sites respectively, to see how the Kuhne site's subsistence strategy relates to other sites, as well as to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the subsistence strategy for the entire Illinois River Valley. The site comparisons are followed by a discussion of changes in methodology and Stuart Struever's contributions in archaeology and zooarchaeology, specifically the development of flotation samples.
The analysis of the Kuhne site faunal collection showed that mammals dominate the Kuhne site subsistence strategy, which also included birds, turtles, fish, and bivalves. Fish and bivalves only contribute a small portion to the total Kuhne faunal assemblage. Previous analysis completed in the 1960s indicate many more bivalve specimens in the Kuhne faunal collection, changing the subsistence economy interpretation to place more importance on riverine resources in addition to mammals. The most significant species at the Kuhne, Rench, and Apple Creek sites was the white-tailed deer. However, when the three faunal assemblages were compared, differences were found in species used to supplement everyday diet, as well as the seasonal occupation of the sites. The Kuhne site inhabitants utilized small mammals and birds to supplement everyday diet, the Rench site occupants with fish, and the Apple Creek inhabitant's exploited mussels. Excavation methods at the Kuhne site did not include flotation samples like the Rench and Apple Creek site excavations, and this is likely the reason for a bias towards larger specimens in the assemblage. Subsistence along the Illinois River Valley during the Middle Woodland period appears to be similar, with each site's inhabitants exploiting local faunal resources from their surrounding environmental zones.
Beyer, Autumn, "Subsistence Strategies in the Upper Illinois River Valley: the Kuhne Site Case Study" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 321.