Document Type


Publication Date


Report of Investigations Number



In 1987, as part of a long-term research program jointly sponsored by Iowa State University and the Institute For the History of Material Culture, Polish Academy of Sciences intended to promote comparative studies of post-Pleistocene cultural adaptations on either side of the Atlantic, ISU's Dr. John Bower initiated archaeological excavations at the Buchanan site (13SR153) near Ames, Iowa. Situated in a narrow valley Formed by several small deeply entrenched streams that are tributary to the Skunk River, Buchanan Features alluvial/colluvial sediments revealing the presence of a Late Woodland component overlying multiple Archaic occupations extending to depths in excess of two meters below the modern surface in some places on the valley floor. Typologically distinctive artifacts and three radiocarbon assays providing multiple intercept calibrated ages ranging From 529-5192 B.C. confirm both the stratified nature of the cultural deposits and the temporal placement of the Archaic components represented.

Another important outcome oF the 1987 Field season at this site was the recognition oF seemingly extraordinary organic preservation, especially in the area designated as the C-grid. Because Bower had not yet secured the participation of a paleoethnobotanist, the senior author was approached and invited to visit the site in the following year.

Although project fieldwork during the 1988 season was conducted in Poland, Bower did elect to return to Buchanan For a brief session with a CY-TAG (Challenges For Youth-Talented and Gifted) group prior 2 to departing for Europe. The major accomplishments or this Field school were to further elucidate the nature or the Late Woodland occupation and to clear some 25 m 2 or Lata Woodland deposits in the B-and C-grids in preparation For a 1989 Field season during which the emphasis would be on the recovery or Archaic data.

The CY-TAG session on the Buchanan site also provided the senior author with an opportunity to visit Ames and the site. The 1987 data set was examined, open units on the site permitted viewing of the sediments, and discussions with Bower resulted in clarification or some possible ways in which we at Western Michigan University might assist in developing a strategy for retrieving data useful in determining conditions in the immediate site environs and the nature of plant resource exploitation during the succession or occupations represented by the cultural deposits. Thereafter, much of our time and energy were devoted to securing the funds necessary For implementing the research design created.

With financial support from the Office or the Provost, the College or Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Anthropology at WMU, the senior author was able to spend the first week on site with the 1989 ISU field school. A stratified random sample or grid coordinates in both theB~ and C-grids was established For the collection oF 2DX20 em column samples or site sediments, and Field school personnel were instructed as to the manner in which soil samples were to be collected, provenienced, curated, and processed (Floated) in the Field prior to recovered residues being returned to the laboratory. Parenthetically, all flotation residues sent to WMU were collected From the B-grid as excavation during the 1989 Field season was confined to this area or the Buchanan site.