The Nelson Site (21BE24) is situated on a low terrace along the southern boundary of the Blue Earth River, approximately 2 miles west of the city of Mankato, Minnesota (Appendix A, Figures 1 and 2). Initial survey of the site in 1973 identified the site as a single component Terminal Woodland habitation site associated with cultural entities centered in the Mississippi River Valley of Iowa and Wisconsin. However, subsequent analysis and additional archaeological investigations conducted in 2011 and 2013 identified additional components of the site and recognized variations in decorative elements from pottery recovered from previous surveys, which differed from those generally attributed to defined pottery wares in adjacent areas and states. Additional investigations were conducted in the summer of 2014 to collect data from the originally defined Nelson site area and artifact concentrations identified during later surveys pf areas to the immediate south, with the explicit purpose to define cultural contexts to each component of the Nelson site terrace. The results of this archaeological investigation revealed that materials recovered from artifact concentrations identified to the south of the previously defined Nelson site are consistent with materials recovered from the 1973 investigation of the site. An admixture of materials consistent with both eastern and western sources suggests a commingling of influences and a regionally unique combination of material culture. While concentrations of cultural materials were identified throughout spatially distinct areas of the Nelson site terrace, these all appear to represent a relatively short temporal occupation of the area by a seemingly homogeneous, yet regionally distinct cultural group. However, the presence of cultural materials within buried habitable soil horizons that have been interpreted as temporally synonymous with materials recovered from overlying horizons cannot be demonstrably associated with the apparent primary occupation of the Nelson site terrace. As such, these materials may be representative an earlier occupation of the Nelson site terrace, which may or may not be related to its primary occupation.


Ronald P. Schirmer

Committee Member

Woo S. Jang

Committee Member

Kathleen T. Blue

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

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