Title Reviewed:
Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnological Study

Author Reviewed:
Glenn A. Black

G. Richard Peske


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 328-329

Article Type:
Book Review

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Book Reviews

Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnological Study. Two volumes. By Glenn A. Black. (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1967. Pp. x, 616. Illustrations, notes, figures, maps, appendices, index. $25.00.)

The Angel Site, located on the north bank of the Ohio River near Evansville, is one of the largest prehistoric Indian towns in the Midwest. The author of this volume had dedicated a major portion of his life to the archaeological investigation of this settlement. Within a span of twenty-three years (1939-1962) Glenn Black directed excavations at the Angel Site which culminated in this publication. After the author's untimely death these two volumes were compiled from his manuscripts and research notes with the addition of a fifty page descriptive section on the material remains by James H. Kellar.

Although this report is primarily intended for the archaeologist and anthropologist, many portions of it should be of interest to the historian and layman. Black presents both a description of the numerous archaeological features and artifacts plus a reconstruction of the Angel Site history and environment based upon his archaeological analyses and numerous historical sources which are presented at length and synthesized in the second volume. Throughout these pages, Black's professional objectivity is tempered with romanticism and the excitement of discovery.

Here in southern Indiana is a most impressive Indian site which flourished from about A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1500. Ail notions of the American Indian being a primitive savage at the mercy of the elements should be dispelled after reading this book. Cultural debris is spread across more than 400 acres of land and the central area of the settlement is enclosed by a stockade which is close to one mile in length. Square and rectangular bastions were erected at set intervais along the main stockade line and a smaller picket line ran parallel to the major palisade. The construction of this stockade entailed the hand excavation of more than 2,000 cubic yards of earth and the cutting and trimming of at least 7,600 logs for posts. Within this enclosure the Indians built twelve or more mounds; the largest ones are flat topped pyramids which probably formed the bases for small temples. Mound A dominates the site measuring 110 feet by 100 feet at the base and attaining an elevation of forty-two feet. This mound has been estimated to contain 67,785 cubic yards of earth which places it among the largest earth mounds of the United States. The orientation of the stockade, mounds, houses, and other features are evidence of a planned settlement which was constructed by a large population under the direction of a ruling class or group.

Considerable monetary support went into the publication of these volumes which has resulted in a handsomely bound set with numerous drawings and illustrations. As a professional archaeologist this reviewer appreciates the detailed maps and numerous plates of artifacts; however, there is no overall map of the excavations and many of the plates of materials have no indication of scale. A great amount of data can be gleaned from the pages, but the section on "Material Remains" represents only a cursory analysis and treatment of the millions of recovered artifacts; however, this can be excused due to the lack of time available to Kellar.

Through the foresight of the Indiana Historical Society and Black, an important archaeological site, which yields a great amount of information about our American heritage, has been saved from destruction. The record of twenty years of dedicated work by Black has now been published, and it is a major contribution to American Indian prehistory.

University of Wisconsin, Milvuaukee

G. Richard Peske

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.