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The Mero (Diamond Bluff) Site         
Site Number(s):   47PI2, 47PI93, 47PI132, 47PI133  
County:   Pierce, WI  
City Township:   Diamond Bluff  
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The Mero (Diamond Bluff) site complex consists of a large mound group surrounding several village areas. The complex is located on a large glacial outwash terrace above the mouth of the Trimbelle River in Pierce County, Wisconsin. Archaeologists have often visited the site, looking for evidence of the people who lived on the large site and constructed the numerous mounds, some of which may have been built in the shape of sacred animals, such as birds and wolves.


IMA recreation of the Mero site mapped by TH Lewis in 1887.

In the spring of 1887, T.H. Lewis mapped 396 mounds at the Mero site, noting that approximately 150 more mounds had already been nearly obliterated by cultivation. Of the mapped mounds, three were ceremonial effigy mounds in the shapes of a panther, wolf, and bird. In 1902, J.V. Brower, the first to mention village sites at the Mero complex, noted approximately 300 mounds and two effigy mounds still visible. Brower, in contrast to Lewis, identified the effigy mounds as a beaver and a wolf. Other surveyors documented a lizard shaped effigy mound or the presence of no effigy mounds anywhere on the site.

 
 



Excavation at the Mero site
Excavations at the Mero site in 1992.


Recent excavations at this site suggest that several successive groups of people may have lived at the Mero site in the period from about 1000 to 1300 CE. Importantly, these multiple occupations demonstrate that the practice of mound building was continuous from the Woodland through Oneota traditions.

 
 



Pottery sherds excavated from the Mero site demonstrated Late Woodland, Middle Mississippian, and Oneota characteristics. The ceramic analysis revealed that traits and types of these traditions interweave, and may actually have evolved out of one another, although the exact sequence remains uncertain.

Based upon ceramic and lithic evidence, it is clear that peoples of the Late Woodland, Middle Mississippian, and Oneota traditions inhabited this large village complex, perhaps occasionally at the same time.


Verticle profile showing ceramics
Vertical profile of an excavation unit at the Mero site revealing ceramic sherds in situ.

 
 




Rimsherds recovered from 47PI2.


Middle Mississippian influence in this area flourished from approximately CE 1050 to 1100. Some of the patterns established at this time continued to influence the character of Mississippi Valley Indian cultures for many years.

 
 



Extensive trade and culture networks using the river systems were established. The people who lived at the Mero site acquired exotic artifacts and tool-making materials which are found by archaeologists today.

The Mero site complex contains at least two village areas each surrounded on three sides by a large mound group. Excavations conducted at the Mero site have revealed the presence of square or rectangular semi-subterrainean houses, like those found at the Bryan site.

 
 





Food storage pits are located both inside and outside of the houses. The storage pits and the house features may reflect the multiple occupation phases suggested by the ceramic analysis.



Mississippian-style (Silvernale Phase) ware in the village area excavated by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 
 



Soil resistivity testing showed many different activity areas within the village at Mero. Evidence also indicates the people made tools in one area of the village, scraped and processed hides in another, and cleaned and discarded fish in a different location.

 
 




Archaeologists gathering soil resitivity data in order to map the Mero site.



Soil resistivity map showing pits and other features below the surface at the Mero site.

 
 



Like the other Red Wing Locality villages, the Mero site contains a mix of Late Woodland, Oneota and Middle Mississippian-like artifacts. It is clear that in the later part of the Mississippian period, around 1250 CE, the Mero villagers were part of a large scale trading network that reached as far south as St. Louis.

 
 



Mero artifact drawings
Artifacts attributed to the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex found at Diamond Bluff. (A) Copper mace pendant, (B-Bí) marine shell God Mask, (C) mace pendant motif on pottery in University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee collection.



A few of the Mississippian-related materials may indicate direct contact with Cahokia. Included in the recovered artifacts were ritual objects that are likely related to what archaeologists call the "Southeastern Ceremonial Complex".

 
 



Archaeologists believe the Mero site was occupied for 200-300 years. From the village, the inhabitants would have had an excellent view of the Cannon and Mississippi Rivers. Animal and plant remains indicate repeated spring and summer seasonal occupations.

 
 
 


 

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Updated 30 June 1999