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Double Ditch - History

bison herd on grasslands

In the archaeological record the dominant role of bison, hunted for their hides and meat, is evident. Other animals also were hunted and trapped, including pronghorns, deer, wolves, rabbits, beavers, muskrats, porcupines, foxes, mink, badgers, and bobcats. A diverse variety of birds (waterfowl, hawks and eagles, grouse, cranes, owls, woodpeckers, crows, ravens, and small songbirds) and fishes (sturgeons, gars, mooneyes, pikes, suckers, catfishes, and cods) are represented in the archaeological record. These animals all contributed to the subsistence of the villagers. Each supplied an important source of bone for tools and ornaments, as well as being tapped for their hides, furs, and plumage.

Fortification systems consisted of a deep moat and a wall of wooden posts that formed a palisade. Natural features, such as steep terrain and riverbanks, also were used for added protection. Fortification systems attest to the fierce warfare between villagers and surrounding nomadic tribes that is reported in early historic records.

3D graphic of Double Ditch vilageThe raised areas around the village are midden mounds or earthen mounds ranging from one to ten feet high. There are more than 30 mounds surrounding the village. The oldest mounds, dating to AD 1550-1650, occur directly atop Ditches 3 and 4. Excavations showed some mounds to be accumulations of household refuse - animal bones, broken pottery, and ash from hearths - carried and dumped in huge heaps. Other mounds were composed partially or entirely of fill excavated from elsewhere in the village, clearly indicating that those mounds were intentionally constructed. During one phase of occupation, the village defense involved a combination of Ditch 2, which lacked bastions, and several large mounds placed as strong points just inside the ditch.

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