The Fluvial and Geomorphic Context of Indian Knoll, an Archaic Shell Midden in West-Central Kentucky

Darcy F. Morey, George M. Crothers, Julie K. Stein, James P. Fenton, Nicholas P. Herrmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Indian Knoll is the largest Archaic shell midden excavated by WPA archaeologists in Kentucky. Situated in a large alluvial valley, the site is not associated with a known river shoal as might be expected, making its fluvial and geomorphic setting of interest. Based on sediment cores and auger samples, undisturbed portions of the site remain despite extensive excavations. In undisturbed portions, a shell-bearing layer is overlain by a shell-free midden layer. Profiles of organic matter and calcium carbonate content for both layers are similar to those of other Green River shell middens. New radiocarbon determinations date the shell deposit at 5590-4530 cal yr B.P. Analysis of mussel species collected from the Indian Knoll indicates that shell fishing took place in a swiftly flowing, shallow to moderately deep setting of the main river channel. Overall, the prehistoric river setting adjacent to Indian Knoll was characterized by deeper water on average with variable but finer-grained substrate compared to other Green River shell midden sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-553
Number of pages33
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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