Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Brian Hoffman


The landscape of the Minnesota River Valley of central Minnesota holds rich archaeological and historical evidence of human occupation extending over the last 10,000 years. Two seasons of archaeological fieldwork by Hamline University and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have begun exploring the Louisville Swamp Unit of the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Shakopee. One of the most important discoveries of this fieldwork was a Woodland tradition lithic (or stone) workshop (ca. 500-1500 CE). Excavations at this site have produced thousands of artifacts demonstrating the workshop was primarily utilized for making stone tools of Prairie du Chien (PDC) chert. PDC chert is a stone material considered of only moderate quality for flint knapping but which can be easily procured in large quantities from the outcroppings in the surrounding landscape. This workspace is where flintknappers tested and heat treated lithic raw materials so they could be worked into stone tools for everyday use. The artifacts recovered include lithic debris (flakes, tested raw materials, broken chert, etc.), fire-cracked rock, burnt limestone, hammerstones, an anvil, and several pieces of grit tempered pottery. In recording flake attributes such as platform angle, size grade, weight, etc. of this lithic assemblage, we can better grasp aspects of how the ancient flintknappers were able to effectively exploit this abundant raw material. The comparison of the debitage analysis results at the Louisville Swamp Site to other archaeological pre-contact lithic sites in Minnesota helps us understand the production stages and techniques of stone tool manufacturing, especially in relation to the thermal alteration of PDC chert, these results also lend themselves to the investigation of the production stages in which PDC chert is transported across Native Southern Minnesota landscapes.








Departmental Honors Projects