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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.

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Objects and Artifacts - Archeological Artifacts - Material/Stone Type - Pipestone - Kansas Pipestone

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Diminutive Pipe from the Mem Site, 14MN328

Diminutive Pipe from the Mem Site, 14MN328
Date: 1500-1800 CE
This pipestone pipe, extremely small yet quite refined, was excavated in 1986 during a highway salvage project undertaken by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and Kansas Anthropological Association volunteers. The pipe is made of Kansas pipestone and was not well cleaned as it was hoped that the material inside the pipe might be analyzed in the future. The soft fine grained material of pipestone enabled the pipe's maker to carve it into its elbow-like shape. Pipes were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. In Kansas, these pipes are generally made by American Indians between 1650 to 1850. The Mem site, in Marion County, is a Great Bend aspect, ancestral Wichita village.


Kansas Pipestone Artifact from 14RC410

Kansas Pipestone Artifact from 14RC410
Date: 1400-1499 CE
This fragment of Kansas pipestone was recovered in 1981 by Kansas Historical Society archeologists at an archeological site in Rice County. The function of the artifact is unknown, it may have been a work in progress. The soft, fine-grain Kansas pipestone material enabled the carver to shape, smooth, and incise or score lines on the artifact. The site is part of what archeologists call the Little River Focus of the Great Bend Aspect (ancestral Wichita), whose people practiced fishing, hunting, gathering, and agriculture.


Kansas Pipestone Artifact from the Crandall Site, 14RC420

Kansas Pipestone Artifact from the Crandall Site, 14RC420
Date: 1500-1800 CE
The soft fine grain Kansas pipestone material enabled the carver to shape and smooth this piece and then incise or score lines upon three sides. The function of the artifact is unknown, it may have been a "work in process." It was found during excavations at the 1983 Kansas Archeology Training Program field school at the Crandall site in Rice County. The Crandall site is a Late Ceramic period camp site in Rice County occupied by Little River focus Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) peoples.


Kansas Pipestone from 14DP317

Kansas Pipestone from 14DP317
Date: 1-1000 CE
This fragment of Kansas pipestone was recovered from the surface of an Early Ceramic period camp site in Doniphan County. Kansas pipestone is found in the glacial drift of northeast Kansas. The piece shows plow scars, damage from farming activities, but not other modification. The soft fine grain Kansas pipestone material would have enabled it to be shaped and smoothed if desired.


Kansas Pipestone from Marion County

Kansas Pipestone from Marion County
Date: Unknown
This cobble of Kansas pipestone was collected from Marion County. Striations on the side show that the soft, fine grain Kansas pipestone has been shaped into a rectangle. Parallel lines on two sides are also present. The cobble may have been initially prepped for making an unknown object, possibly a pipe, a tool, or a decorative item.


Kansas Pipestone, Pipestone and Hematite from Blue Earth Village, 14PO24

Kansas Pipestone, Pipestone and Hematite from Blue Earth Village, 14PO24
Date: 1795-1830
These three artifacts were donated in 1880 and 1925 to the Kansas Historical Society. They were collected from the Blue Earth village site, a Kansa Indian village in Pottawatomie County. Many lodge depressions were still visible on the surface of the site in the 1880s. All three artifacts may have been at the start of modification. The smallest, a piece of hematite, has scratch marks on the smoothed end. The medium-sized is made of pipestone, while the largest is of Kansas pipestone. The soft fine grain material of these pieces would have enabled them to be shaped and smoothed if desired.


Mano from a Kansa Site, 14SH302

Mano from a Kansa Site, 14SH302
Date: 1831-1848
This mano, made of Kansas pipestone, was recovered from an archeological site in Shawnee County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1956. The mano was likely used as the upper hand-held millstone for grinding foods and pigments. The soft fine grain Kansas pipestone material enabled the mano's maker to shape and smooth the piece. Kansas pipestone is found in the glacial drift of northeast Kansas. The mano also shows plow scars, damage from farming activities. The site is the possible location of American Chief's Village, the smallest of three Kansa Indian Villages in Shawnee County.


Modified Kansas Pipestone from Blue Earth Village, 14PO24

Modified Kansas Pipestone from Blue Earth Village, 14PO24
Date: 1795-1830
This artifact, a modified piece of Kansas Pipestone, was collected from the Blue Earth village site and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1880. The artifact was shaped into a rectangular block with two sides showing some smoothing. Blue Earth village was a Kansa Indian village in Pottawatomie County. Many lodge depressions were still visible on the surface in the 1880s.


Pipe Bowl from the Larcom-Haggard Site, 14CO1

Pipe Bowl from the Larcom-Haggard Site, 14CO1
Date: 1400-1750 CE
This pipestone pipe bowl fragment was recovered from the Larcom-Haggard site in Cowley County. The soft, fine-grained material of the Kansas pipestone enabled the carver to shape and smooth the pipe. The upper end of the bowl was decorated with a collar below the lip. Pipes like this one were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. The Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) village was discovered in an old river meander with a modern gravel quarry greatly impacting the site. Kansas Historical Society archeologists and crew excavated there in 1996 as the final stage of a salvage project.


Pipe Fragments with Tobacco Residue from the Mem Site, 14MN328

Pipe Fragments with Tobacco Residue from the Mem Site, 14MN328
Date: 1500-1800 CE
These four pipestone pipe fragments were excavated in 1986 during a highway salvage project at the Mem site. The pipes shown here are all made from pipestone, a soft fine grained material that enabled the pipe's maker to carve and polish the pipes. The pipe on the top row is made of Kansas pipestone, found in the glacial drift of northeast Kansas. These pipes were all broken after use, as is evident by the dark tobacco residue, called dottle, on the pipe's interiors. Pipes were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. In Kansas, these pipes are generally made by American Indians between 1650 to 1850. The project was undertaken by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and Kansas Anthropological Association volunteers. The Mem site, in Marion County, is a Great Bend aspect, ancestral Wichita village.


Pipestone Elbow Pipe Fragments from the Mem Site, 14MN328

Pipestone Elbow Pipe Fragments from the Mem Site, 14MN328
Date: 1500-1800 CE
These pipestone elbow pipe fragments were excavated in 1986 during a highway salvage project at the Mem site, undertaken by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and Kansas Anthropological Association volunteers. The soft fine grained material of pipestone enabled the pipe's maker to carve it into its elbow-like shape. The three pipe fragments on the top row were made of Kansas pipestone. Pipes were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. In Kansas, these pipes are generally made by American Indians between 1650 to 1850. However, all of these pipes were broken during manufacture and were never smoked. The Mem site, in Marion County, is a Great Bend aspect, ancestral Wichita village.


Pipestone Elbow Pipe from 14MN326

Pipestone Elbow Pipe from 14MN326
Date: 1500-1800 CE
This pipe was collected from the surface of a Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) site with previous occupations during the Early Ceramic period. The pipe, manufactured on Kansas pipestone, appears to have never been smoked and may have broken during manufacture. The soft fine grained material of the Kansas pipestone enabled the pipe's maker to carve it into its elbow-like shape. A groove runs perpendicular to the bowl rim and incised lines are found on all sides of the bowl and remaining stem, in addition to modern scars. Pipes were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. In Kansas, these pipes are generally made by American Indians between 1650 to 1850.


Pipestone Pipe Bowl from the Crandall Site, 14RC420

Pipestone Pipe Bowl from the Crandall Site, 14RC420
Date: 1500-1800 CE
This pipe fragment was recovered during excavations at 1983 Kansas Archeology Training Program field school at the Crandall site. The soft fine grained material of the Kansas pipestone enabled the pipe's maker to carve it into its elbow-like shape. Pipes were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. In Kansas, these pipes are generally made by American Indians between 1650 to 1850. The Crandall site is a Late Ceramic period site in Rice County occupied by Little River focus Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) peoples.


Pipestone Pipe Fragment from 14MN324

Pipestone Pipe Fragment from 14MN324
Date: 1500-1800 CE
This small pipestone pipe fragment was recovered during a Phase III Highway Salvage project in 1976 by Kansas Historical Society archeologists. The pipe came from the surface of a Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) site in Marion County. The soft fine grained Kansas pipestone enabled the pipe's maker to carve it into its shape and incise horizontal lines below the lip. Traces of dottle (tobacco residue) remain on the pipe's interior. Pipes were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. In Kansas, these pipes are generally made by American Indians between 1650 to 1850.


Pipestone Pipe Fragment from Rice County

Pipestone Pipe Fragment from Rice County
Date: 1350-1850 CE
This pipe bowl was collected from Rice County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2001. The pipe was carved from Kansas pipestone, a soft, fine-grained material that enabled the carver to shape and smooth the pipe and drill holes for the bowl and stem. The pipe was not smoked and may have broken during manufacture.


Pipestone Pipe Fragments from the Majors Site, 14RC2

Pipestone Pipe Fragments from the Majors Site, 14RC2
Date: 1650-1700 CE
These two small pipestone pipe fragments were recovered from the Majors site in Rice County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1982. The soft fine grained material of the pipestone enabled the pipe's makers to carve, decorate, and polish them. The pipe fragment on the left was made of Kansas pipestone, while the fragment on the right was made of Minnesota pipestone. The Majors site was a Great Bend aspect, Little River focus (ancestral Wichita)occupation site that was occupied during the late 17th century, based on southwestern pottery styles.


Pipestone Pipe from the Living the Dream Site, 14CO382

Pipestone Pipe from the Living the Dream Site, 14CO382
Date: 1400-1725 CE
The pipestone pipe fragment was recovered from a Phase IV salvage project in 1994 at the Living the Dream site by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and crew. The soft fine grained material of pipestone enabled the pipe's maker to carve it into its shape. This pipe broke during manufacture and the incised scratches on the surface may have been polished over as a final step had it not broke. Pipes were used during trade negotiations and to mark special occasions. In Kansas, these pipes are generally made by American Indians between 1650 to 1850. The site, in Cowley County, was a Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) village that had been much impacted by modern activities.


Pipestone Tool for Pottery Decoration

Pipestone Tool for Pottery Decoration
Date: 1-1000 CE
This tool, made of Kansas pipestone, was an isolated find in Morris County. It is 154 mm long and 24 mm wide at its widest point. It is likely that this tool was used to create dentate stamping (tooth-like projections) by pressing the tool into still moist clay.


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