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Some Notes On Recording The Location Of Sites And Obtaining Site Numbers

by Scott Beld

The Office of the State Archaeologist (Michigan Department of State) maintains a listing of archaeological sites in the state of Michigan. This file records information about each site, such as location, type of site, who has collections from the site and where they are located, and what publications and reports have been prepared on the site.

Completed site forms should be sent to: Dr. Barbara Mead, Michigan Historical Center, 717 W. Allegan, Lansing, MI 48918. Note: site locations provided to the Office of the State Archaeologist are not available to the general public and are only given out on a "need to know" basis to researchers and archaeological consultants.

When the Bureau of History receives a new site location, a site number is assigned to that site, for example 20SA665. The "20" in the site number stands for Michigan (the rank of the state in an alphabetical listing of the states and territories of the United States), "SA" stands for the county (in this case Saginaw County), and "665" is the number of the site in the county (ranked sequentially as they are recorded).

The most important piece of information to provide is the location of the site. This includes the political location, coordinates, and a map reference. The political location refers to the township, county, and state in which the site is located. Coordinates include the tier and range of the township, the section of the township, and in what fraction of the section the site is located (e.g., SW 1/4 of NE 1/4 of SW 1/4, section 2, T.12N-R.2W). The map reference refers to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) quadrangle map the site is located on. These maps are available from the U.S. Geological Survey, The DNR in Lansing, and can often be purchased at sporting goods stores and bookstores. If the USGS quadrangle map is not available, a county road map and a map you sketch of the location is adequate.

In addition to the location, several additional pieces of information should be recorded about the site. These include:

SITE NAME (optional).
Many archaeologists often name sites after the landowner.


For example, moraine, glacial till or outwash, lake bed, beach ridge, drumlin, esker (see Dorr and Eschman 1970:141-163).

ELEVATION. (feet or meters above sea level).
This can be obtained from USGS quadrangle maps.

This can be as simple as sand, loam, clay, or silt; however, many counties in Michigan have modern soil surveys and a more precise description of the soil type can be obtained from them.

This describes the modern vegetation on the site. If previous floral cover is known, this can be recorded along with the source of the information.

Nearby water sources (rivers, lakes), the distance to them, and the drainage system of which they are a part should be noted.

Undisturbed, cultivated, wind erosion, water erosion, potted, construction.

For example, village, camp, burial, lithic scatter, isolated projectile point find, mound, earthwork, unknown.

Record the size of the area over which cultural material is scattered or areas where cultural material is concentrated (if a large site).

The various periods of Michigan's prehistory and some of the artifacts characteristic of them are given below with some references to articles and books that describe and illustrate artifacts likely to be encountered. Emphasis has been placed on references relating directly to Michigan and, where possible, The Michigan Archaeologist has been used. The beginner may want to consult Fitting (1975) for an overview of the periods and sites known from them (as of 1970). For projectile point types, Justice's (1987) descriptions of point types from the eastern United States will be useful Ozkerts (1976) description of a surface collection from central Michigan is also a good resource for the beginner. If you cannot identify your artifacts, you may want to consult a professional archaeologist. Also, it is often useful to other researchers if you include a photograph of the artifacts from the site (this can be as simple as a snapshot).

Paleo-Indian (ca. 11,500-10,000 B.P.).
Sites with occupations from this time period are easily identified by the presence of fluted points. Three fluted point styles that probably have chronological significance are Gainey, Barnes, and Holcombe points. Gainey points are defined on the basis of points recovered at the type site in Genesee County (Simons et al. 1984:266-279) and are considered to be the earliest points in Michigan. Gainey points are often made of exotic cherts from Ohio (Upper Mercer and Ten Mile Creek cherts) (see also Wright 1981 and Beld 1986 for Gainey points described in The Michigan Archaeologist). Barnes points are defined on the basis of points recovered at the type site in Midland County (Wright and Roosa 1966; Voss 1977) and are considered to date later than Gainey points (because of a more developed fluting technique). Barnes points are usually made of Bayport chert when found in southern Michigan. Holcombe points are defined on the basis of points recovered from the type site in Macomb County (Fitting et al. 1966) and are considered to date later than Gainey and Barnes points. Hi-Lo points, a non-fluted point type considered to be a Late Paleo-Indian point type, were defined at the Hi-Lo site in Montcalm County (Fitting 1963). Satchell points, a stemmed point type previously considered to be related to Late Paleo-Indian points in the western United States, have been shown to date to the Late Archaic period (Simons 1972; Kenyon 1980; Stothers 1983) and are no longer considered to be Paleo-Indian artifacts.

Early Archaic (ca. 10,000-8,000 B.P.).
This period is not well-known from excavated sites in Michigan. However, several point types recovered from Early Archaic contexts to the south of Michigan frequently occur in surface collections from the state. These include Thebes, St. Charles, Kessel, Kirk, Palmer, Maccorkle, and various bifurcated stemmed types (see Justice 1987:54-58, 67, 71-72, 78, 82-85, 86-96).

Middle Archaic (ca. 8,000-4,500 B.P.).
Middle Archaic deposits have been excavated and dated in Michigan at the Weber l site near Frankenmuth. These produced Raddatz side-notched small points with serrated blades (Lovis 1989a).

Late Archaic (ca. 4,500-3,000 B.P.).
Several Late Archaic sites have been investigated in Michigan. For a recent discussion of the various point styles, their dating, and references see Lovis (1989b). Earlier literature on the Late Archaic in Michigan includes Wright and Moran 1964), Harrison 11966), and Taggart (1967). Late Archaic dates and artifacts have recently been published by Lovis (1989a) and Garland (1990).

Early Woodland (ca. 3,000-2,300 B.P.).
This period is marked by the appearance of pottery and the first evidence of cultivated plants (squash) in the state. Early Woodland ceramics are characterized by thick bodies (ca. 1 cm) and interior-exterior cordmarking (see Ozker 1983 and Garland 1990). Early Woodland projectile point types consist of stemmed Kramer points, thin side-notched Meadowood points, and various notched projectile point types (see Ozker 1983; Garland 1990; Beld 1991).

Middle Woodland (ca. 2,400-1,400 B.P.).
Several Middle Woodland period sites have been investigated in Michigan. The Middle Woodland period is known for Hopewell ceremonialism and burial mounds. Hopewell related materials occur across southern Michigan, while Lake Forest (or Laurel) Middle Woodland materials occur in northern Michigan. Excavations at Hopewell burial mounds near Grand Rapids are described in Griffin et al. (1970). Artifacts from the Middle Woodland levels at the Schultz site, a stratified habitation site, are described in Fitting (1972) (see also Prahl 1991 for Hopewell burial mounds and habitation sites in the Muskegon River Valley and Lovis 1991 for a habitation site in the northern Lower Peninsula). Descriptions of Lake Forest/Laurel Middle Woodland materials from northern Michigan can be found in Janzen (19ff8) and Brose (1970).

Late Woodland (ca. 1,400-400 B.P.).
Late Woodland sites are among the most common sites in Michigan and almost every volume of The Michigan Archaeologist over the last 30 years contains a site report on a Late Woodland site. For descriptions of Late Woodland ceramics, the beginner should consult Fitting (1965) and Murphy and Ferris (1990) (for southeast Michigan); Bigony (1969) (for the Saginaw area); Rogers (1972), Bettarel and Smith 11973), and Kingsley and Garland (1980) (for southwest Michigan); Fitting (1968) (for western Michigan); McPherron (1967) and Hambacher (1988) (for northern Michigan); and Holman and Martin 11980) (for the western Upper Peninsula). For projectile point types, Luedtke (l978) should be consulted.

Generally describe the artifacts, i.e. pottery, flakes, fire-cracked rock, biface, uniface, ground stone, shell, bone, projectile points, scrapers, etc.

Give the name and address of the landowner(s). As an important note, it is imperative that you obtain the landowner's permission before conducting any archaeological work, even if you are only surface collecting.

Give the date of survey, method, and who did any fieldwork.

Record the names and address of other collections that you know of from the site. Also record information on what they have, if this is known.

Record any additional information that does not fall under the categories listed above.

In addition to this information photographs or drawings are also useful information.

Completed site forms should be sent to: Dr. Barbara Mead, Michigan Historical Center, 717 W. Allegan, Lansing, MI 48918.


Beld, Scott G.


A Fluted Point Find, 20GR162, from Gratiot County, Michigan. The Michigan Archaeologist 32:156-163.


Two Terminal Archaic/Early Woodland Sites in Central Michigan. Technical Report 22. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Bettarel, Robert Louis and Hale G. Smith


The Moccasin Bluff Site and the Woodland Cultures of Southwestern Michigan. Anthropological Papers No. 49. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Bigony, Beatrice A.


Late Woodland Occupations of the Saginaw Valley. The Michigan Archaeologist 16:115-214.


Brose, David S.


The Archaeology of Summer Island: Changing Settlement Systems in Northern Lake Michigan. Anthropological Papers No. 41. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Dorr, John A. and Donald F. Eschman


Geology of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.


Fitting, James E.


The Hi-Lo Site: A Late Paleo-Indian Site in Western Michigan. The Wisconsin Archaeologist 44:87-96.


Late Woodland Cultures of Southeastern Michigan. Anthropological Papers No. 24. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


The Spring Creek Site. In Contributions to Michigan Archaeology, pp. 1-78. Anthropological Papers No. 32. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


The Schultz Site at Green Point: A Stratified Occupation Area in the Saginaw Valley of Michigan. Memoirs No. 4. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Fitting, James E., Jerry Devisscher, and Edward J. Wahla


The Paleo-Indian Occupation of the Holcombe Beach. Anthropological Papers No. 27. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Garland, Elizabeth B.


Late Archaic and Early Woodland Adaptation in the Lower St. Joseph River Valley, Berrien County, Michigan. Michigan Cultural Resource Investigation Series, Vol. 2. State of Michigan, Lansing.


Griffin, James B., Richard E. Flanders, and Paul F. Titterington


The Burial Complexes of the Knight and Norton Mounds in Illinois and Michigan. Memoirs No. 2. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Hambacher, Michael J.


The Point Arcadia Site (20MT120), Manistee County, Michigan: A Preliminary Consideration of the Williams Collection. The Michigan Archaeologist 34: 81-102. Harrison, Sidney


The Schmidt Site (20SA192), Saginaw County, Michigan. The Michigan Archaeologist 10:49-75.


Holman, Margaret B. and Terrance J. Martin


The Sand Point Site (20B&14). The Michigan Archaeologist 26.


Janzen, Donald R.


The Naomikong Point Site and the Dimensions of Laurel in the Lake Superior Region. Anthropological Papers No. 36. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Justice, Noel D.


Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points of the Midcontinental and Eastern United States: A Modern Survey and Reference. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.


Kenyon, I. T.


The Satchell Complex in Ontario: A Perspective from the Ausable Valley. Ontario Archaeology 34:17-43.


Kingsley, Robert G. and Elizabeth B. Garland


The De Boer Site: A Late Allegan Phase Site in Allegan County, Michigan. The Michigan Archaeologist 26:3-44.


Lovis, William A.


The Holz Site (20AN26), Antrim County, Michigan: A Preliminary Report. The Michigan Archaeologist 17:49-64.


Archaeological Investigations at the Weber I and Weber lI Sites. Michigan Cultural Resource Investigation Series, Vol. I. State of Michigan, Lansing.


Rethinking the Archaic Chronology of the Saginaw Valley, Michigan. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 14:226-260.


Luedtke, Barbara E.


Late Woodland Projectile Points in Michigan. The Michigan Archaeologist 24.


McPherron, Alan


The Juntunen Site and the Late Woodland Prehistory of the Upper Great Lakes Area. Anthropological Papers No. 30. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Murphy, Carl and Neal Ferris


The Late Woodland Western Basin Tradition of Southwestern Ontario. Chapter 7 in The Archaeology of Southern Ontario to A.D. 1650, edited by Chris J. Ellis and Neal Ferris, pp. 189-278. Occasional Publication No. 5. London Chapter, Ontario Archaeological Society.


Ozker, Doreen


A Descriptive Report of the Surface Collections from Site 20MD 28, Chippewa Nature Center, Midland County, Michigan. The Michigan Archaeologist 22:1-100.


An Early Woodland Community at the Schultz Site 20SA2 in the Saginaw Valley and the Nature of the Early Woodland Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region. Anthropological Papers No. 70. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Prahl, Earl J.


The Mounds of the Muskegon. The Michigan Archaeologist 37:59-125.


Rogers, Margaret B.


The 46th Street Site and the Occurrence of Allegan Ware in Southwestern Michigan. The Michigan Archaeologist 18:47-108.


Simons, Donald B.


Radiocarbon Date from a Michigan Satchell-Type Site. The Michigan Archaeologist 18:209-214.


Simons, Donald B., Michael J. Shott, and Henry T. Wright


The Gainey Site: Variability in a Great Lakes Paleo-Indian Assemblage. The Archaeology of Eastern North America 12:266-279


Stothers, David


Radiocarbon Dating the Satchell Complex in Northwestern Ohio. Ohio Archaeologist 33: 29.


Taggart, David W.


Seasonal Patterns in Settlement, Subsistence, and Industries in the Saginaw Late Archaic. The Michigan Archaeologist 13:153-170.


Voss, Jerome A.


The Barnes Site: Functional and Stylistic Variability in a Small Paleo-Indian Assemblage. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 2:253-305.


Wright, Henry T.


A Fluted Point from the Muskegon Valley. The Michigan Archaeologist 27:3-4.


Wright, Henry T. and Richard E. Morlan


The Hart Site: A Dustin Complex Fishing Camp on the Shiawassee Embayment. The Michigan Archaeologist 10:49-53.


Wright, Henry T. and William B. Roosa


The Barnes Site A Fluted Point Assemblage from the Great Lakes Region. American Antiquity 31:850-860.