Corn Farmers and Effigy Mound Builders: Iowa 1000 Years Ago

1000 Year Trunk Overview of Contents

The Late Woodland period (A.D. 300-1000) was one of remarkable change. The continent-wide exchange of exotic goods declined, but interaction between communities and regions continued and population levels apparently increased rapidly. In some parts of Iowa, Late Woodland peoples aggregated into large, planned villages, but most of the state settlements continued to be small and generally dispersed across the landscape. Late Woodland peoples introduced the bow and arrow into the Midwest. Continued native crop horticulture and diversified hunting and gathering provided the subsistence base through most of the period. Corn was introduced to many groups around A.D. 800, but it was not a staple crop until the Late Prehistoric period. Late Woodland mound construction was generally simpler than in the Middle Woodland period, but regular aggregations for ritual and other purposes are reflected in hundreds of Late Woodland mound groups found throughout the state. Mound groups contain linear and conical mounds, as well as effigy mounds in the shapes of birds, bears, and more. 

The archaeological term "Oneota" can be traced back to the early 1900s when Charles Keyes referred to ceramics found along the Upper Iowa River, formerly called the Oneota River, as Oneota. Most archaeologists now use Oneota to refer to several post-Woodland groups living on the Prairie Peninsula that appeared about A.D. 1000 and continued there until the Historic period (ca. A.D. 1650). Oneota populations are characterized by shell-tempered pottery, bone tools such as the bison scapula and deer mandible sickle; small, unnotched triangular arrow points; and village areas marked by an abundance of storage pits. The Oneota practiced a mixed economy, relying on agriculture of crops like maize, squash, and beans; plant gathering; and hunting for their subsistence. 

This Discovery Trunk captures this archaeological period of dynamic change and diverse resources with a variety of over 60 replica and authentic artifacts and samples. The resources provide educators and students with background information to enhance the learning experiences of both the provided and customizable lessons that can be adapted for K-12 audiences. 

Reserve this trunk!

Note: There is a $25 service fee for all trunks borrowed from the Office of the State Archaeologist. This service fees covers staff time to maintain the traveling trunk program, including processing requests, preparing trunks for shipping, inventorying and replacing items, and making upgrades to trunk contents and lessons. We cover shipping to the trunk's destination, but it is the responsibility of the borrower to return the trunk to OSA via shipping or drop-off.

Great Oasis Vessel
Shell Medallion
Stone Drill