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The Rosenberger site.


Site ID: 15Jf18

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


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The University of Kentucky excavated the Rosenberger site in the 1970s prior to the construction of a new floodwall. The site sits on a low floodplain ridge near the Ohio River. Its Late Archaic occupants were hunter-gatherers. They almost certainly found this location appealing because it provided easy access to resources in the river, in the surrounding floodplain, and in the adjacent uplands.

Analysis of the recovered artifacts and the numerous pits, hearths, and burials documented during fieldwork made it clear that Native Americans lived intermittently at Rosenberger for over 1000 years. Today the Rosenberger site is preserved and protected as part of the Riverside - The Farnsley-Moremen Landing property.​

Merom-Trimble, Brewerton, and McWhinney spear points (from left to right).


​Analysis of spear- and dart points indicated that Native peoples occupied Rosenberger most intensively throughout much of the Late Archaic period.  McWhinney, Merom-Trimble, and Brewerton examples were the most common spear points recovered.

Investigators documented just over 400 features at Rosenberger. They consisted of hearths, artifact caches, large and small circular trash pits, and burials.  The large number indicated that Late Archaic groups repeatedly occupied the site on a seasonal basis.

Investigators also identified spatial differences in feature distribution. Burials tended to cluster near the center. Large circular pits were concentrated to the south, and other types of features were concentrated to the north. These patterns indicated that Native residents restricted particular activities to certain areas of the settlement. 

The site’s Ohio River floodplain location provided direct access to diverse natural resources.  Archaeologists determined that fish were an important dietary component, because fish remains accounted for about 15 percent of the identified animal bones from the site.  Site residents also harvested river mussels, but in much smaller quantities. 

Resources from the adjacent floodplain included reptiles (mostly turtles) and small mammals. These resources supplemented the deer and other small mammals site residents hunted in the uplands.

Examples of bone fishhooks found at the Rosenberger site.

What's Cool?

​Biface Cache

One of the more interesting finds at Rosenberger was a cache of 41 bifaces buried with an individual whose age and sex could not be determined.  The cache most likely represented a burial offering. 

A biface is a two-sided chipped stone tool that resembles a spear or dart blade. It has not been modified to be affixed to a shaft, however. Native flintknappers made bifaces by carefully removing small pieces (flakes) from a chert pebble or cobble until they achieved the desired shape. They could then use the bifaces either as-is or they could further modify them into a spear, dart, or arrow. Archaeologists refer to this process as "lithic reduction." It is similar to the process artists use to create stone sculptures and the process masons use to shape stone blocks.

The presence of so many bifaces with a single individual led researchers to wonder whether​ one person had made them all. To test this hypothesis, archaeologists measured five dimensions on each biface: length, length from base to widest point, maximum width, basal width, and maximum thickness. 

Statistical analysis of these measurements revealed that the cache contained two distinct groups of bifaces. This led researchers to infer that the 41 bifaces had been made by two different knappers using slightly different manufacturing techniques.

Statistical analysis indicated that one flintknapper made these bifaces.

Statistical analysis indicated that a second flintknapper made these bifaces.

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