The Dan Bauer Collection

Huber Site, Cook County (11CK1)

Dan Bauer“Not really knowing quite what to do with the materials, I put it all away in a large cardboard box in my basement until I could find the right people who wished to study it. I was quite thrilled and honored that The Illinois State Archaeological Survey could document this material!”

Dan Bauer is a life-long resident of the south Chicago suburbs and became fascinated with archaeology at a young age after his Father found a 3/4 groove axe head on their land.  Dan says he was lucky enough to grow up in the area well before the large housing and mall developments took over and there was still plenty of vacant space and farmland to look for 'arrowheads'. Over the years, as the farmlands that Dan hunted became developed, he perused excavated areas and dirt berms for whatever chert points or tools he could find.  Later, in community college, Dan took classes in anthropology and even participated in a local fieldschool.

Dan’s construction career also gave him many opportunities to search excavated fill on jobsites in Will, Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties and slowly gathered an excellent assemblage of stone tools from the area. Dan is a member of the Illinois State Archaeological Society and has read many books and literature to educate himself about the age and type of material he has found. Now retired, Dan is an avid watercolor artist and his collection of personal finds serves as an excellent source of information from the area and sites that were destroyed prior to investigation. 

In the late summer of 2004, Dan observed an excavation for a parking lot where a house and small farm once stood, on approximately 3 acres of land bordering Tinley creek. To his surprise, he found a large amount of shell tempered, incised pottery shards and scattered bone, shell and chert debris across the sandy loam field and in dirt piles.  The location turned out to be one of the last remaining portions of the Huber site (11Ck1), an important late prehistoric fifteenth to sixteenth century Upper Mississippian village. Construction activities in the 1950’s and 60’s had previously destroyed most of the site, and current bulldozing and grading activities were disturbing remaining portions, resulting in the exposure of dark midden soils and multiple features.  From July to September, Dan made multiple surface collections every evening after work to pick up what he could, as the site was quickly being destroyed and the artifact rich topsoil was being hauled away. Within a few weeks the topsoil and berms were stripped and gone and if not for the collections that Dan and several others made, even more would have been lost.  

Dan says “There were a few other people walking about picking up things and I learned from one whose father served as a volunteer on the original dig, that it was one of the last portions of the famous 'Huber site' that had been excavated and studied by Dr. Elaine Bluhm and David J. Wenner in 1956. Not really knowing quite what to do with the materials, I put it all away in a large cardboard box in my basement until I could find the right people who wished to study it. At the October 2009 Illinois State Archaeological Society gathering in Yorktown, Illinois I spoke with Dr. Tom Loebel, and asked if he would be interested in the box of material I had gathered to give it to the proper persons for identification and study. I was quite thrilled and honored that The Illinois State Archaeological Survey could document this material! I am so very grateful for what has been done and I wish to thank all involved from the bottom of my heart!  I commend the most important work that is being done daily with the ISAS and look forward to hearing more of what is being discovered. Best regards for all, Dan”

Dan’s salvage efforts and generous donation of material has already been put to good use and is a great example of the contribution that citizen scientists such as Dan can make. In  2009 undergraduate students at UIC cleaned, sorted, and inventoried Dan’s collection before it was permanently curated with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey.  The collection of material donated by Dan consists of over 900 items including chipped stone (Figure 1), ceramics (Figure 2), and faunal material (Figure 3). The ceramics and faunal material have already been analyzed Kjersti Emerson and Steve Kuehn, and much of this information will be used in upcoming report on the Hoxie Farm site. The Chipped and ground assemblage is currently undergoing analysis.

Chipped and Ground Stone – Figure 1
Dan collected over 250 chipped and ground stone items. This includes at least 60 projectile point fragments, 62 bifaces and biface fragments, 17 scrapers, 3 drills, and 89 pieces of debitage (flakes). Two groundstone celt fragments and 6 groundstone tools ranging from abraders to hammerstones are also present. Analysis is still underway, but most items appear to have been made on locally available material, however small amounts of Burlington, Moline, and other exotic cherts are present. The presence of damaged Madison point fragments, preforms, and debitage indicates that active hunting and retooling activities took place, and repair and replacement of damaged weaponry was a frequent activity as was butchery and hide preparation.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Top: Madison points, fragments, and preforms. Bottom: End scrapers, drills, and celt fragments surface collected by Dan.

Dan Bauer Huber Site Ceramic Summary (Kjersti Emerson) – Figure 2
The Huber phase is identifiable by its ceramic ware, as are most pottery producing archaeological cultures. Huber pottery assemblages consist of shell-tempered, globular jars with tall, strongly everted rims. These jars have smoothed exteriors. Dan Bauer’s collection includes 107 rim sherds large enough to be assigned vessel numbers, 9 lip fragments, and 65 body sherds. The body sherds, and some vessels with shoulder sections still attached, were commonly decorated with fine vertical to diagonal incising or medium to wide trailing. Lips are carefully shaped (flattened, rounded, or beveled) and often notched. Only two vessels had handles, one decorated with a punctate fill. This ceramic assemblage represents what we believe to be late/middle Huber phase. It has been analyzed and is currently being used as a comparative dataset in the ongoing ISAS analysis of the earlier Hoxie Farm site Huber phase assemblage.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Huber rims and vessel sherds showing variation in design ranging from fine incising to bold trailing and occasional use of punctuates on shoulders and handles.

Dan Bauer Huber Site Faunal Summary (Steve Kuehn) – Figure 3
The Dan Bauer collection contains nearly 500 well-preserved faunal remains.  Mammal bones are abundant, and the variety of species preset indicates that the Huber inhabitants procured animals from forest, forest-edge, prairie, and aquatic habitats.  Mammals identified include white-tailed deer, elk, bison, domestic dog, beaver, raccoon, muskrat, river otter, and bobcat.  Butchery marks were observed on several mammal and bird bones, including several canid remains, suggesting that dogs may have been consumed as part of feasts or ceremonies.

Birds identified in the Bauer collection consist of turkey, goose, mallard, and wood duck.  Turtles present include snapping turtle, painted turtle, softshell turtle, and box turtle. The Huber inhabitants made use of many large river fish, such as buffalo, bowfin, and blue and channel catfish.  Rivers and streams also provided numerous freshwater mussels including black sandshell, hickorynut, mucket, and pocketbook.  Although these species were common to northeastern Illinois, the Bauer collection also contains some marine whelk shell, traded up from the Gulf or Atlantic Coast.  One whelk shell has cut marks, and marine shell was often modified into bowls, beads, and other important items.

In addition to the whelk shell, several other faunal remains have been modified into tools, ornaments, and similar items.  Two bison scapulae were used as hoes, and six other elk or bison scapula hoe fragments were identified.  One deer mandible has sickle polish, resulting from repeated cutting of plant material.  Several bird long bones, one possibly a swan humerus, have been cut and polished and may represent tube or bead fragments.  One black sandshell has smoothing at one end, likely caused by grinding and shaping to create a spoon or small scoop.  A beaver incisor, used as a graving or etching tool, displays scratches and polish.  Other specimens exhibit polish, smoothing, and other modification reflecting tool use or manufacture.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Modified bone, antler, and shell. Top: Cutmarked bone, two modified, and polished bird bones, cut and snapped antler, two scapula hoe fragments. Bottom: Three Whelk shell fragments and two bone tool fragments.