Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM
CHRONICLING LANDSCAPE EVOLUTION AND EARLY HUMAN OCCUPANCY AT FORT RILEY, NORTHEASTERN KANSAS
With increased understanding of landscape evolution comes a greater comprehension of spatial and temporal patterns of prehistoric cultural activities. Toward that end, the US Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) and the US Army Research Office (ARO) provided a unique opportunity for multiple-year research deciphering and modeling the late-Quaternary soil geomorphic evolution of the Fort Riley military reservation (NE Kansas), in the context of prehistoric human occupation of the changing landscape. While Fort Riley is not particularly large as military training reservations go, it is of sufficient size to contain an array of geomorphic settings attractive to prehistoric peoples, ranging from bottomland associated with the Kansas and Republican rivers to dissected, loess-mantled uplands. D.L. Johnson initiated the project with an intensive examination of the upland pedostratigraphy, and W.C. Johnson then focused on alluvial sedimentary sequences. In the spirit of contemporary geoarchaeology, field methods included documentation through extensive coring and backhoe trenching; this activity was combined with traditional laboratory analyses of soil and sediment samples, e.g., 14C dating, stable isotopes, rock magnetics, botanical microfossils, particle size, and carbon content. Upland loess, which ranges in age from at least Illinoian time to the late Holocene, contains suites of buried soils, including one representing the transition from the late Pleistocene to the early Holocene and exhibiting traces of Paleoindian activity. Valley-fill deposits are particularly rich in cultural material, especially Paleoindian and Archaic material, e.g., of four small backhoe trenches in a high-terrace system of a tributary, three produced hearths and one a major lithic concentration. The resulting landscape model provides an enlightening perspective on the prehistory of the region and is just one of the multitude of projects illustrating the imagination and experience of an extraordinary soil geomorphogist—D.L. Johnson.