Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies

 

All of the artifacts featured are from the Wabash River and Wildcat Creek drainages in Clinton and Miami Counties in Indiana. They are presented here through the courtesy of Jeff and Tom Smith.

Kenneth chert is a distinctive mottled or speckled 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 Georgiady, 1998:122).

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.

Summarizing, 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) 692-8669.

REFERENCES

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. Muncie. Indiana. 

DeRegnaucourt, Tony
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.

Tankersley. Kenneth B.
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, Boulder Colorado.

 

 

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