Applicant: Edward R. Henry
My dissertation research focuses on the timing and tempo of earthwork construction that occurred between the late–Early and early–Middle Woodland Periods (approx. 500 BCE to CE 250) in the Central Kentucky Bluegrass Region. Archaeologists have traditionally characterized this time period as belonging to the Adena/Hopewell phenomena, emphasizing considerable variation in material culture and ritual practice. Because so much attention has been focused on constructing and evaluating Adena/Hopewell cultural typologies, less attention has been paid to building chronologies, and defining historical developments, of social complexity associated with Adena/Hopewell. The construction and use of earthworks provides one context that I use as a proxy for local participation in Adena/Hopewell by social groups in Central Kentucky. By learning when and in what sequence earthworks were built, identifying what activities were undertaken within them, and recognizing how many were being used concurrently, I hope to identify historical elements of ritual practice associated with this unique expression of social complexity in Eastern North America. Statistical modeling of multiple chronometric dates from several earthwork sites is imperative to this task. In the summer of 2013 I conducted excavations at a small geometric ditch-and-embankment earthwork in northern Fayette County, Kentucky with the assistance of the University of Kentucky archaeological field school. Excavations revealed complex sequences of refilling events in the ditch, a series of post-holes outlining the interior platform, and a large amorphous sheet midden situated in the earthwork’s center. The KyOPA research grant is crucial to my creation of a radiocarbon chronology for this specific earthwork and the broader goals of my dissertation. Identifying the historical context of this earthwork and the activities undertaken there will provide a preliminary case study that I can use to present to grant agencies as I seek the funding to move forward with my dissertation research.
Value of Grant to Research:
Being a member of KyOPA over the years has offered me numerous opportunities to engage with, and learn from, Kentucky’s professional and avocational community of archaeologists. As a member of KyOPA I have been able to present my research within a friendly and supportive environment. I look forward to participating in KyOPA for years to come.
LiDAR and geophysical data from the geometric earthwork.
Embankment and ditch profile.
Profile of ditch showing burning events near the base. Note: ditch was excavated to bedrock in antiquity.
Planview image of sheet midden feature inside earthwork