Pottery is one of the most abundant artifact types recovered from late pre-contact habitations sites in the upper Midwest. As a material with inherent plasticity, pottery reflects changes in people's preferences and traditions in aspects of its form and design quickly through time and space. Analyzing different facets of pottery has the ability to provide extensive information about people in the past: their resource utilization, technology, traditions, economic exchange, regional interaction, ideology, and or group identity. Yet, a significant challenge in pottery analysis is deriving comprehensive and testable conclusions in terms of types and styles that reflect patterned cultural behavior and the changing nature of the archeological record. In order to infer aspects of patterned behavior, archeologists must be clear about the temporal and spatial boundaries of their classifications as well as qualitative and quantitative parameters of vessel morphology and decoration.

The typologies created throughout the 20th century to describe Oneota pottery from the Upper Mississippi, Blue Earth, and St. Croix River valleys were not explained in great detail and need to be reevaluated. Past classifications of Oneota pottery from these geographical locations were too inclusive, using very few attributes of vessel form and design and little to no quantitative parameters to discern what was or was not included in the defined types. Also, archeologists often used small rim, decorated body, etc., sherds to establish their types, but such small pieces do not provide a sound representation of pottery vessels' morphological form or overall decorative design. In addition, these past types no longer reflect the current state of the archeological record given recently excavated material.

This study focuses on the morphological and decorative aspects of late pre-contact Oneota pottery from the Upper Mississippi, Blue Earth, St. Croix River valleys. This research reevaluates the past typological classifications of Oneota pottery in southern Minnesota and parts of western Wisconsin using quantitative and qualitative data acquired from measuring detailed aspects of form and design of vessels and vessel segments. In addition, it uses different aspects of descriptive, exploratory, and multivariate statistical analyses to create typological classifications that are comprehensive in aspects of overall form and design as well as testable and falsifiable.


Richard Schirmer

Committee Member

J. Heath Anderson

Committee Member

Edward Fleming

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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