• A quiet summer walk through the Marching Bear Group of effigy mounds

    Effigy Mounds

    National Monument Iowa

Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary. If the term you are looking for starts with a digit or symbol, choose the '#' link.


- A -

archaeologist
a scientist who studies the remains of past and present humans
artifact
an object made, or modified by humans
atl-atl
a bone or wood shaft implement, held in one hand, and used to propel a spear. The tool functions as a lever, giving greater thrust and distance to the spear or dart being thrown
awl
a small pointed hand tool used for piercing holes in leather, wood, and other materials
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- B -

back dirt
the excavated material from a site, presumed to be of little or no further archaeological significance
banner stone
a stone that was attached to an atl-atl in order to make it a more effective weapon by adding weight and balance
behavior
the way a person acts
brochure
promotional literature
bundle burial
human bones bundled together in some material and buried
burial mound
mound under which a person or group of people were buried
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- C -

cardinal directions
north, south, east, west
catlinite
another name for pipestone, a reddish sandstone used by Native Americans for making pipes
celt
a small axe-like type of stone implement usually held in the hand used for working wooden materials
cemetery
a location where individuals are buried
ceremony
a gathering of people for a program, usually serious in nature, for a specific purpose
chert
a fine grained sedimentary rock that is white, pinkish, brown, gray or blue-gray in color. It is often shaped into stone artifacts by chipping
clay
material used for making pots
clovis point
large stone projectile point used by early American hunters to kill large game animals
compass rose
used to show direction on a map
compound mound
mounds that are made up of conical mounds connected by linear mounds
conical mound
a cone or oval shaped mound that usually contains human burials
copper breast ornament
a piece of pounded natural copper
coulees
steep sided valleys found along the Upper Mississippi Waterway
cremation
burials that are made from the remains of burned human bones
cremation ashes
fragments of charred human bones
cultural diffusion
the spreading of cultural traits from one society to another through trade or other forms of contact
culture
way of life
custom
established practice; habit; tradition
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- D -

driftless area
parts of NE Iowa, SE Minnesota, and SW Wisconsin that weren't affected by the most recent ice age
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- E -

effigy mound
mounds that are build in the shape of animals or birds
erosion
soil that is eaten away by water or wind
estimation
probable calculation or valuation
excavated
hollowed out cavity; explored
extended burial
the body is laid out flat, usually on the back
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- F -

fantasy
stories set in an unreal world. Fantasy is based upon the imagination in one's mind
farming
act of growing crops on the land
feature
evidences of human activity at a site visible as disturbances in the soil. Some examples would be post molds, storage pits, or hearths
flexed burial
a body that is buried in the fetal position
folsom point
large stone projectile point used by early American hunters to kill large game animals
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- G -

grave goods
objects placed with human burials meant to equip the person for the after life
grit
crushed stone or sand placed in clay in order to make potter vessels stronger
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- H -

haiku
brief poem of seventeen syllables
hide scraper
a tool made out of bone or stone used for removing the flesh from an animal hide
Hopewellian/Hopewell
refers to a prehistoric culture from Ohio known for elaborate burial practices
horticulture
plant cultivation carried out with relatively simple tools and methods
humerus
the large upper arm bone
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- I -

intermediate directions
northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest
interview
a record of a conversation between an interviewer and a subject. The intent of the interviewer is to provide for readers an overview and understanding of the subject being interviewed.
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- J -

(empty)
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- K -

(empty)
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- L -

legend
a story handed down from earlier times
linear mound
mound built in the shape of a cigar or candy bar
littering
unwanted debris
living
having life; existing; in action or use
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- M -

man-made changes
any change caused by humans
mano and metate
stone implements used for grinding nuts, seeds, and other foodstuffs
map key
used to show features on a map
map scale
used to show distance on a map
medicinal
items use for a medical purpose, usually to cure or relieve a disease
mega fauna
the name given to the large ice age animals (i.e. mammoths and mastodons) that inhabited North America at the time of arrival of the Early Americans
Mississippi River
river to the east of Iowa
myth
a tradition or fable; an invented story
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- N -

National Park Proclamation
special distinction given to an area for the preservation and public education of a historic site
natural changes
any change as a result of weather or other normal occurrence
natural resource
a material that comes from the earth
nature
environment
negative
an effect that is not in the best interest of something
non-living
matter or material that is not alive
non-renewable resource
something that can not be replaced
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- O -

observer
one who observes; a spectator who takes notice of something
obsidian
a type of black stone (volcanic glass) found in the Western U.S.
open pit mine
a large scale mining operation that removes materials from the surface of a site. A large hole or "pit" remains unless the land is reshaped
outline
the line surrounding an object
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- P -

phalanges
human finger bones
pipestone
a soft red sandstone from a quarry in Southwestern Minnesota used for making pipes
pollution
contamination of soil, water, or air
positive
an effect that is certain to be good for something
pot hunter
person who digs or picks up archaeological materials without permission in order to recover goods
pot sherd (shard)
an individual piece of a broken pottery vessel
projectile point
the tip of an arrow or atl atl dart, often made out of stone
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- Q -

(empty)
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- R -

red ocher (ochre)
powdered iron ore placed in a burial area
renewable resource
natural resource that can be replaced
respect
set of values which honor an individual, culture, or set of object
road cut
building of a road in the area
rock shelter
a rock overhang used as a shelter by Early Americans
rules
a set of defined actions permitted in a certain situation or location
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- S -

safety
set of procedures which keep people or objects in good condition
scapula
the shoulder bone of an animal
sensory-oriented
oriented to touch, taste, sound, sight, hearing, heart
snares
loops of material (vine, fiber, leather, etc) used for catching animals
story board
written and visual representation outlining a concept
strata
layers of soil or earth
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- T -

tempering agent
sand, stone, shell, clay or plant fibers added to local clays to prevent pottery from shrinkage and cracking during firing or drying
totem
a plant or animal associated with a clan as a means of group identification. It may have other significance for the group as well
transcript
a record of a conversation. Transcripts may be obtained from interviews, trials, or someone's recollections
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- U -

(empty)
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- V -

values
a set of beliefs a person holds to be important to him or her
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- W -

wildlife
animals located in the wild
woodland culture
culture of prehistoric Native Americans in northeast Iowa
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- X -

(empty)
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- Y -

(empty)
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- Z -

(empty)
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- # -

(empty)
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Revised: November 07, 1999.






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Effigy Mounds National Monument

Did You Know?

Great Bear Effigy Mound Group

In 1880, Alfred J. Hill and Theodore H. Lewis formed the Northwestern Archeological Survey for the purpose of surveying mounds in the Upper Mississippi Valley. Lewis spent eleven field seasons in Iowa and was the first to map mounds in the present Effigy Mounds National Monument.