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Archaeologists in Action at the Howard Site.


Site ID: 15Ma127

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​​​​​​At the Howard site in Madison County, archaeologists discovered the remains of a late Fort Ancient (1550-1650 AD) village. Located on a low ridge overlooking a small stream, this 6-acre village may have consisted of several clusters of houses. The focus of the limited excavations undertaken at the site were several large pits. Native residents had thrown out ash and food remains from hearths and meals into these pits, as well as broken ceramic vessels.​

Howard site occupants made most of the items they used on a daily basis, such as pottery, arrowheads, and clothing. But they also traded with other Native American groups for items that were not available locally, such as marine shell or glass and copper beads. They would have regarded such rare items as exotic and valuable.​

Archaeologists excavate a large pit that measured 6 feet in diameter.


Pottery from the Howard site included a variety of jars. Most had plain and smoothed exteriors. On some, though, potters had left the impressions of the cords made by the cordwrapped paddles they had used to form the vessels. Potters also had lightly drawn rectangular designs on some jars with wide sticks, leaving shallow lines. They often filled-in the areas between the lines with shallow punctuations (dots). Unusual pottery items from the Howard site included ceramic effigies of a dog and a human head.

​Chipped stone tools recovered from the site included small triangular arrowheads and endscrapers.  The latter were primarily used for scraping animal hides. At the Howard site, scrapers outnumbered arrowheads. This suggested that animal hide processing may have been an important site activity. Residents would have used animal furs for clothing and bedding, and may have them used as trade items, too.

Triangular arrowhead fragment (left) and a triangular endscraper (right).

A blue glass bead and a copper bead recovered from the Howard site both represent evidence of trade between Europeans and Native Americans. The glass bead is wire wound, which means the European ​bead-smith formed it separately by winding hot strands of molten glass around a metal ​rod. The blue color was achieved by adding cobalt to the glass. The copper bead was tubular and had been made from a small rectangular sheet of copper.

 Blue glass bead (left) and copper bead (right).

Decorated jar fragments from the site.

What's Cool?

Dog Effigy

​​​Though missing its head, the animal effigy made from clay recovered from the Howard site has a stocky body and a short pointed tail.  Based on these attributes, researchers concluded that it represents a dog.  Of note is a drilled hole located directly below its pointed tail. This suggests that someone may have worn this figurine as a pendant.​

Dog effigy from the Howard site (tail is to the left).

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