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2013 Ritzenthaler Museum Research Internship Award

Devyn McIlraith was the 2013 Ritzenthaler Museum Research Internship Award recipient. Through the summer and into the fall she worked with the Milwaukee Public Museum's collection of ceramic sherds found at the Riverside Cemetery Site in Menominee, Michigan (20-ME-01). The Riverside Site is known as a Transitional late archaic to early woodland stage site (1000-400 BC) because of the Red Ocher burial complex component of the site. At least 76 individuals were buried at the site some of which were buried with grave goods, which were predominantly made up of copper artifacts and bifaces along with red ocher powder.

Through the analysis of documentation from the 1962 excavation it was determined that none of the sherds were associated with any of the burials at the site. All but one small grouping of sherds were found in general levels of excavation within sand fill. One small grouping of sherds was found within a midden complex with no other associated artifacts.

The research consisted of a records review, digital photography of the sherds, and metric analysis and temper analysis of the rim sherds. The collection is made up of just fewer than 1,400 sherds and one small partial thumb pot. The sherds vary in decoration and tempering and this preliminary research will allow for the use of X-ray florescence to judge similarities and differences in the paste make up of the different rim sherds to help determine a relationship between them.

The completion of this project will result in a more holistic understanding of the use of the Riverside Site beyond that of a Red Ocher age burial ground. Through the use of X-ray florescence similarities of paste will be examined and will provide the museum with artifact data, digital records and will aid in the understanding of what may have occurred at the Riverside Site.

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