Update on 13DK143 Archaeology at Mini-Wakan State Park

Post Date: 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

by John F. Doershuk, University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist

I returned to site 13DK143 during the summer of 2019 with Iowa Lakeside Laboratory archaeological field school students who assisted with careful excavation and documentation of an additional 11 m2 of the site. There has now been 45 m2 excavated, including units at the south and north ends. Located within scenic Mini-Wakan State Park in Dickinson County, Iowa, 13WD143 is a Prairie Lakes Woodland deposit likely between 1,000 and 1,700 years in age. This summer, 10 Iowa State University and University of Iowa students diligently worked at the site under my direction between June 10 and July 5. Much-appreciated assistance was provided by volunteer Pat Collison, who dug, mapped, and documented the site deposits for a full week alongside the Lakeside Lab students. Local resident Carl Klein provided his usual excellent screening and backdirt management support which the students and I greatly appreciated. Terry Hildebrandt arranged for four local area elementary school students to spend a morning with us getting a first immersion experience with hands-on archaeological learning.


View east (at north end of site) of 2019 excavations at 13DK143

View east (at north end of site) of 2019 excavations at 13DK143.


We discovered several examples of carefully made stone tools, including a triangular projectile point (perhaps an arrow point but more likely sized for use as a dart tip), an end scraper likely used for hide working, and a knife; all three made from high quality cherts. Several large (in one case 8 cm across and 11 mm in thickness) cord marked sherds were recovered, several with distinctive Fox Lake or Lake Benton type attributes. Copious fire-cracked rocks were also found, but in a dispersed arrangement, perhaps indicative of a dissembled rock oven. Numerous animal bones (representing fish, birds, and mammals from muskrat to bison) were also recovered. I’ll be returning to 13DK143 in 2020 with Lakeside Lab students, in what may be the penultimate field season in the current investigation of this well-preserved deposit.

Artifacts recovered at 13DK143 in 2019

Artifacts recovered at 13DK143 in 2019.