Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. William Cremin

Second Advisor

Dr. Janet Brashler

Third Advisor

Dr. Janet Brashler

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The Dieffenderfer site, located in Constantine Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan, is a multi-component site situated in the middle St. Joseph River valley. Calibrated radiocarbon dates from several features at the site suggest multiple re-use during the Late Woodland period from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1400, with the most intensive occupations occurring during the 12th through 14th centuries. These dates are supported by a large Late Woodland ceramic assemblage in association with three spatially discrete activity areas; two of these activity loci are represented by housefloors, suggesting a degree of permanence by the residents.

A cluster analysis performed on the Late Woodland ceramic material from the site suggests that the Dieffenderfer occupants were participating in a cultural tradition which was separate and distinct from the better known Allegan tradition of southwestern Michigan. The significance of the site appears to be its intermediate position between those sites in the lower St. Joseph, such as Moccasin Bluff and Wymer, which demonstrate strong cultural ties to Mississippian peoples to the southwest in northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois, and those sites located upstream in the middle St. Joseph valley, such as Kline 1 and Whorley Earthwork, that evidence a stronger relationship to Iroquoian groups in northern Michigan, southeastern Michigan, and southern Ontario. The Late Woodland ceramics from the site are described and analyzed in light of these possible cultural relationships.