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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Menoken in Burleigh County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Investigating a Pit House

Menoken Village State Historic Site

 
 
Investigating a Pit House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Connor Olson, September 16, 2019
1. Investigating a Pit House Marker
Inscription.  This house was built in an oval-shaped pit about two feet deep and measured 16 by 23 feet in size. Before it was excavated in the late 1990s, remote sensing studies were conducted. Precise surface elevations were recorded and about 3,500 individual measurements of the magnetic signature around the house were completed before actual digging took place. The combination of these noninvasive studies with the information gathered from the excavation gives us a more complete picture of the structure.

What was found in and surrounding the house?

Excavation revealed the entrance as a ramp on the southwest end that sloped inward, down to the house floor. A main hearth was found on the floor near the entrance. A large portion of a bison skull was at the back of the house, and the floor had a thin scatter of discarded artifacts and red ochre stains. The fill within the pit contained burned earth, charred timbers, and large bison bones. This indicated the house had a timber roof, was earth-covered, and burned shortly after it was abandoned.

No pits occurred inside the house, and prepared pits, shallow trash-filled basins, and

Investigating a Pit House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Connor Olson, September 16, 2019
2. Investigating a Pit House Marker
Excavated earthlodge
several hearths occurred outside in an arrangements not unlike at House 17. As at House 17, stored and cashed items occurred at the rear of the structure. The collapsed, burned roof fall layer was charged with artifacts, with butchered bison bone being most evident. Arrangements of small posts and large posts occurred in front of and to one side of the dwelling, and these may indicate use of the area before House 2 was constructed. The area outside the house is marked by a scatter of processed bison bone, several shallow basins, and shallow hearths.

How was this pit house constructed?

Only three large posts were found in the excavations. These probably supported a ridge beam spanning the length of the house. A lintel over a post-framed doorway likely supported one end of the ridgepole in a gabled roof. Oddly, there were virtually no side wall posts of any size. Archeologists speculate that the walls were made of stacked sod, possibly cut by one of the flat, oval-shaped stone tools found inside the house.

Photo captions:
Upper left: Plan map of Menoken Village indicating location of the House 2 excavation
Lower left: Magnetic map of House 2 and surrounding area
Lower middle: Conceptual drawing of a sod house
Upper right: Plan map of House 2 showing locations of entry, posts, and fire hearths

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Lower right: Possible sod cutting tools found in the house

 
Erected by State Historical Society of North Dakota.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyNative Americans.
 
Location. 46° 50.489′ N, 100° 31.056′ W. Marker is near Menoken, North Dakota, in Burleigh County. Marker can be reached from 171st Street Northeast 0.2 miles north of 30th Avenue Northeast, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Menoken ND 58558, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Early Archeological Studies At Menoken Village (within shouting distance of this marker); Menoken Indian Village Site (within shouting distance of this marker); Menoken Village State Historic Site (within shouting distance of this marker); Trade at Menoken (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Menoken Village State Historic Site (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Apple Creek (approx. 3.1 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  Menoken Village State Historic Site. (Submitted on August 8, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 8, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 41 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 8, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 6, 2021