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Native Groups — Mississippian Artifacts and Pottery

The artifacts displayed here were excavated from the only known Mississippian village in McLean County. Located north of Heyworth in Randolph township, the Noble-Wieting site and its artifacts predate the arrival of the Kickapoo People.

Image of a mussel shell, which is thin and flaky, white and beige, and oval shaped.

This mussel shell scraper could have had many uses, including shelling dried corn from the cob.

Image of a mussel shell, which is thin and flaky, white and beige, and oval shaped.
Photo of a bone beamer, which is wide at one end and narrow at the opposite end.

This bone beamer was used to scrape both sides of a hide. The tool was used in a fashion similar to a modern steel draw-knife by holding one end in each hand and then scraping the hide in a pushing or pulling motion.

Photo of a bone beamer, which is wide at one end and narrow at the opposite end.
Photo of a partial bone with the word

Awls (drills) were important tools. This one was fashioned from the lower leg of a turkey. It is missing its point.

Photo of a partial bone with the word
Photo of a pair of curved beaver teeth, with the points flattened.

These beaver teeth were modified so they could be used as chisels.

Photo of a pair of curved beaver teeth, with the points flattened.

This fragment from an elk scapula (shoulder blade) has cut and polished edges. Modified shoulder blades were sometimes made into hoes. This one was probably used as a scraper.

Ten black and tan seeds arranged in a circle in an acrylic dish.

A variety of seeds were found at the Noble-Wieting site, including these beans.

Ten black and tan seeds arranged in a circle in an acrylic dish.

The use of pottery grew during the Woodland period, but it was in the Mississippian period that pottery making techniques improved significantly.

Mississippian people began to add crushed shell to clay around 800 CE. Shell-tempered clay was both lighter and stronger than sand or grog-tempered clay. It also transferred heat to food more efficiently during cooking.

Mississippian funerary bowl found in Lawndale township, McLean County, circa 1450 CE

A brown, texturized bowl that has a small opening at the top.

Donated by: Glen Dodds
722.433

A brown, texturized bowl that has a small opening at the top.

Grit-tempered (sand added) or grog-tempered (crushed ceramic) pottery was prevalent during the Woodland period. Tempering reduced shrinkage and cracking when the pot was fired, but made Woodland pots thick and heavy.

Mississippians decorated their pottery with slip, a liquified suspension of clay particles and other materials that when fired gave the pottery color. Graphite was added to create black, hematite (a mineral form of iron oxide) for red.

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