Red Cedar River Archaeological GIS



Red Cedar

Har Karkom

Center (AGIC)


Dr. Jol's Website


During the summer of 2007, I worked with Dr. Robert Barth Jr. compiling a database containing the archaeological information that he has gathered along the Red Cedar River. Despite the fact that the river has been archaeologically studied for the past 125 years, the cultural history of the Red Cedar River is still poorly understood (Barth 1987).

The objective of this project is to create a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)  database to facilitate investigation of the distribution of pre-contact American Indian sites along the Red Cedar River Valley. The ultimate goal of archaeology is to reconstruct and explain past cultures. This is accomplished by identifying patterns, both in the distribution of remains at archaeological sites and in the distribution of sites across geographical space. The settlement patterns of past cultures yield important clues about how these cultures interacted with their environments and how this interaction changed over time.  The location of a site can continue to provide significant information even after the site has been destroyed or its internal patterning has been totally disturbed. GIS is becoming an essential tool for archaeologists, because of its ability to analyze and present spatial information (Price 2007). Formerly, such analysis was conducted by working with a series of  individual maps, trying to make connections from one map to another. GIS allows users to quickly explore relationships between sites and between sites and environmental variables, something that would have formerly been impossible.  The GIS database created by this project will enable such rapid spatial analysis.

Grant Proposal

To this point we have 278 sites in our database. For each site we have temporal data (when available), what type of site it was, what was found, the precontact vegetation data, distance from Red Cedar River, distance from any water source, as well as elevation. I am currently in the process of analyzing the data and researching past archaeological GIS studies in order to produce the best possible analysis.

Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the archaeological sites and the possibility of site robbers using my maps to their own end, the maps that I have created that have the sites on them are not available to the general public but I have created a few maps to illustrate the study area.

If you have an academic interest in the topic please contact me at or Dr. Barth at



UWEC - Seal

Last Update: December 3, 2007

Jacob M. McDonald
phone: (715) 210-5407
email: or