Anthropology, Department of


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Published in THE NEBRASKA ANTHROPOLOGIST, Volume 5 (1980). Published by the Anthropology Student Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588


The Initial Coalescent Variant of the Middle Missouri Sub-area (Lehmer 1971) poses many problems for archeologists working with the culture history of the Central/Northern Plains Areas. The Initial Coalescent should not, however, be considered as strictly confined to the localities of the Big Bend Dam and Pierre, South Dakota, as Lehmer (1971) suggests. Manifestations of this cultural complex can be found as far away as the Niobrara River valley in Boyd County, Nebraska at the Lynch Site (25BD1) (Caldwell 1966). This site has been grouped with the prototype Initial Coalescent site, the Arzberger Site (39HU6), into a taxonomic unit known as the Anoka Focus (Witty 1962), based on the similarities of ceramic vessel forms.

Foremost among the problems concerning the Initial Coalescent sites are questions concerning the origin of this culture complex. These problems arise from the identification of cultural elements from the Central Plains Tradition and the Middle Missouri Tradition. Another problem apparent in the literature concerning the Initial Coalescent is the question of causation for the rise of this cultural entity. The most prevalent theory accounting for the rise of this culture is some type of environmental shift to drier conditions and the subsequent associated consequences of this phenomena. This paper, however, will not focus on the causal reasons of the rise of this culture due to what is perceived as the absence of reliable information in the literature. Instead, this paper is intended primarily as a review of the taxonomic identifications applied to the Initial Coalescent, a review of origin explanations, and a review of the four major village sites. In addition, the trait contributions of the Central Plains and Middle Missouri Tradition to the Initial Coalescent will be partially examined.

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