Kenneth chert is a distinctive mottled or specked gray and white cryptocrystalline material
which outcrops in north-central Indiana along the Wabash River. This
chert is named for the limestone formation from which it outcrops, the
Kenneth Limestone Member (Shaver et al 1970).
The first archaeological description of this chert type was by Catherine Carson in a chapter
of a Ball State University contract archaeological report (Carson 1964). The specific geological context of Kenneth
chert was described by Ken Tankersley (1984) as the Kenneth Limestone Member, Wabash Formation, Salina Group, Cayugan
Series, of the Silurian System. Other common names for this chert type include Calico (for its specked appearance)
and Lafayette Speckled (for its mottling and its proximity to the city of Lafayette, Indiana) (DeRegnaucourt and
The color of this chert is normally a darker gray on white with a speckled or mottled appearance.
The chert can range from white to off-white to light gray with spots ranging from medium dark gray to almost pure
black (DeRegnaucourt and Georgiady 1998). This chert is generally chalky to earthy to porcelaneous in texture and
luster. Its knappability ranges from poor to only fair. It apparently was never heavily utilized
by any of the prehistoric inhabitants of the region and was only relied on as a locally expedient replacement chert
in lieu of better exotic cherts when they were scarce or unavailable.
The Kenneth Limestone formation outcrops primarily along the Wabash River in Cass and Miami
Counties, Indiana, between the towns of Logansport and Peru. The main concentrations of this chert appear to be
at the confluence of the Mississnewa River and the Wabash River near Peru in Miami County, Indiana (Jeff and
Tom Smith, Pat Mooney, personal communication). Another outcropping may occur along Wildcat Creek near Frankfort,
in Clinton County, Indiana. This chert occurs as tabular chunks or blocks eroded out of the limestone bed rock
in gravels of the Wabash and its tributaries in this region of north-central Indiana. It is occasionally found
as a tabular deposit still within its parent matrix of Kenneth Limestone (DeRegnaucourt and Georgiady 1998).
The distribution of prehistoric artifacts manufactured of this chert closely approximate
the range of outcropping, about a 20- to 30-mile radius centered on the confluence of the Mississinewa and Wabash
Rivers in Miami County, Indiana. Some artifacts are found in the surrounding counties of Cass, Tippecanoe, Clinton,
Howard, Tipton, White,
Fulton, and Pulaski (Jeff and Tom Smith, Pat Mooney, personal communications;
and DeRegnaucourt and Georgiady 1998: 122). It rarely occurs as far south as the Anderson, Indiana, area in Madison
County in the Fall Creek drainage (Larry Swann, personal communication). Kenneth chert appears to have been most
heavily utilized during the Late Archaic Period and Early Woodland Period, a time span ranging from 3,000 years
BC to about 100 AD.
Kenneth chertís appearance precludes its being confused with other cherts most of the time.
Occasionally, a piece of Muldraugh (Fort Payne) or Attica! Indiana Green chert can mimic a piece of Kenneth. However,
the unique appearance of most Kenneth chert precludes it from being confused with any other chert type. Attica/Indiana
Green chert overlaps the distribution of Kenneth, but Indiana Green is generally striped or striated, not speckled
or mottled. Some pieces of Muldraugh can also look like Kenneth, especially examples that are not as striped and
show some mottling. However, Muldraugh chert is virtually nonexistent in northern Indiana (DeRegnaucourt
and Georgiady 1998). Modern artifacts manufactured from Kenneth chert are rare, since the chert itself is scarce
and because of the poor knappability of most of the chert found. This author has seen a few modern Thebes points
made of Kenneth chert, but the paucity of large chunks or blocks of this chert precludes most modern flintknappers
from working with this material at this time.
the Kenneth chert type is very diagnostic and unique in appearance. Its prehistoric distribution is centered on
a 20 to 30 mile
radius in north-central Indiana along the Wabash River near the town of Peru, in Miami County. This local to somewhat
regional chert type was used sporadically throughout prehistory in its core area, but apparently never in any substantial
quantities. Prehistoric usage appears to have peaked during the Late Archaic Period around 3,000 to 1,000 BC.
A complete distribution of this material geographically and chronologically would be a worthy
research topic. The author would like to hear from anybody who has found artifacts made of Kenneth chert. He can
be reached at The Upper Miami Valley Research Museum,106 North Street, Arcanum, Ohio, 45304 or by phone at (937)
Carson. Catherine A
1984 A Description of Kenneth Chert. In An Archaeological
Survey of the Upper Wabash River. Ball State University
ARMS Reports of Investigations No. 13, pp. 106-12 1.
1992 ( revised edition) Prehistoric Point types of Indiana and Ohio. UMVARM
Occasional Arrhaeological Monographs No. 1 Arcanom.
DeRegnaucoort. Tony and Jeff Georgiady
1998 Prehistoric chert Types of the Midwest. UMVARM Occasional Archaeological
Monographs No. 7 Arcanum. Ohio.
Shaver. et al
1970 Compendium of Rock Unit Stratigraphy in Indiana. Department of
Nat oral Resources Geological Survey Bulletin No. 43 Bloomington.
1989 A Close Look at the Big Pictures Early PaleoIndian Lithic
Procurement In the Midwestern United States. In
PaleoIndian Lithic Resource Use. Edited by C. Ellis and
L. Lathrop. pp 259~292. Westview Press,