Scientific dating sheds light on another aspect of Lima Lake’s history.

Ten years ago, a flurry of excitement arose when bones and teeth from an ancient bison were found along the eroded bank of a drainage ditch running through the former site of Lima Lake in the northwest corner of Adams County.
Mixed among the animal remains was a projectile point typical of the kind used by a native American culture known to exist in this region about 1,600 to 2,000 years ago.
This was an exciting discovery for archaeologist Steve Tieken of the Quincy-based North American Archaeological Institute. Finding the bones, teeth and projectile point at the same location suggested the point theoretically could have been associated with the killing of the bison. If that was indeed the case, it would rewrite history because most scientific evidence has suggested that bison didn’t arrive in this region until about 600 years ago.

“I was really confident that this point had some meaning with the bones,” Tieken said.This question nagged at him for years. Now, finally, Tieken has an answer.

A sample of the Lima Lake bison was submitted for absolute dating to the University of Illinois. The results, published in the latest edition of Illinois Antiquity magazine, show the bison teeth and bones, and the projectile point might have been found together, but they are more than 1,000 years apart in age.
“I felt in my gut those two pieces were contemporary. This proved that they weren’t,” Tieken said.
Tieken said he wasn’t disappointed by the findings.
“They are what they are,” he said. “To me, it was the truth. And that’s what we’re trying to get at.”

Until the carbon-14 dating technique was used to determine the age of the bison remains, archaeologists interested in the historic Lima Lake area were intrigued by the possibility that the findings from the drainage ditch could alter the cultural history of this area. But this could happen only if the unknown age of the bison matched up with the known age of the projectile point, identified as a Waubesa Cluster point typical of the Early and Middle Woodland periods going back 1,500 to 2,000 years or more.
“It would have put bison hunting way back — almost a thousand years previously,” Tieken said.

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