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kansas city hopewell

The Kansas City Hopewell represents the westernmost regional variant of the Hopewell archaeological complex that dates to the Middle Woodland or Early Ceramic (100 B.C. – 700 A.D.) period (Table 1). There are 30 recorded Kansas City Hopewell sites, centered around the junction of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri [map1]*. Other Hopewell variants extend throughout much of the eastern woodlands of North America and included variants such as the Ohio Hopewell, the Marksville Hopewell, and New York Hopewell [map2]*.

Research suggests the Kansas City Hopewell culture originated due to a migration of people from the Lower Illinois Valley areas, or alternatively, developed in situ. Traditionally, the appearance of pottery, mound burial, horticulture, storage features, and the bow-and-arrow have defined the Woodland period in the Central Great Plains. These features reflect a trend toward greater sedentism than the previous Archaic period.

Archaeologists have divided the Kansas City Hopewell into three phases based on radiocarbon dates and changes in projectile point styles and ceramic decoration. As shown on Table 2, these phases include The Trowbridge Phase (A.D. 1-250), the Kansas City Phase (A.D. 250 – 500), and the Edwardsville Phase (A.D. 500 – 750). Distinctive Kansas City Hopewell lithics include broad-bladed, corner-notched projectile points and sub-triangular, contracting-stemmed points in addition to blocky end scrapers, drills, gouges, celts, axes, and utilized bladelets. Diagnostic Kansas City Hopewell ceramics include large, stone tempered ceramic jars with a sub-conical base. Exterior surfaces are plain, and rims are decorated with a variety of designs including cross-hatched incisions, rocker-stamped marks, or lip notches.

The Kansas City Hopewell peoples supported themselves on a variety of wild resources including seeds, nuts, deer, raccoon, and turkey. Small quantities of maize (corn) has also been recovered from four Kansas City Hopewell sites, including the Trowbridge site and Quarry creek site (Adair 1996:110). However, recent radiocarbon dates on the maize suggest it is from a later time period. The association of this cultigen with the Kansas City Hopewell is therefore in need of further evaluation. The presence of other domesticated plants, including squash and marshelder (Iva annua), suggests that the Kansas City Hopewell people relied on cultivated plants for at least a portion of their diet. The ability to successfully exploit resources of the oak-hickory forest community enabled permanent village settlements. Other smaller short term camp sites also existed that served as resource procurement camps. Occurring near larger Hopewell settlements are stone-lined, earth-covered burial mounds on bluff tops.

* References

Table 1.  Plains Woodland Period   back to top
  Early Woodland   500 B.C. - A.D. 1  
  Middle Woodland   A.D. 1 - A.D. 500   Kansas City Hopewell
  Late Woodland   A.D. 500 - A.D. 1000  

Table 2. Kansas City Hopewell Phases  back to top
  Phase   Date   Ceramic Rim & Point Characteristics
  Trowbridge   A.D. 1 - 250 Dentate-stamped and punch- and boss-  decorations on vessel rims.  Broad bladed projectile points.
  Kansas City   A.D. 250 - 500 Incised cross-hatched lines and punctate designs on vessel rims.  Subtriangular, contracting stemmed or corner-notched projectile points.
  Edwardsville   A.D. 500 - 750 Undercorated rims or lip crenations.  Corner-notched points.




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