Western Illinois University hosts archaeological field school
Western Illinois University (WIU) is hosting an archaeological field school at the Orendorf and Rice Lake Terrace sites in June and July.
Anthropology Professor Andrea Alveshere will lead the project at the sites in Fulton County.
Orendorf sits atop a bluff along the Illinois River Valley, while the Rice Lake Terrace is on a low terrace near Rice Lake.
WIU faculty and students, as well as colleagues from the Upper Mississippi Valley Archaeological Research Foundation (UMVARF), have excavated portions of the Orendorf site several times in the past 30 years. In previous digs, they found evidence of Middle Mississippian Culture habitation, with pottery, tools, bones and shells. The pottery showed evidence of Mississippian influence.
Later pits yielded a type of pottery called Mossville, while newer pits found pottery suggestingthat people moved into the area from the Cahokia Mounds Mississippian site..
The Rice Lake site has had limited study. Artifacts from every archaeological period from Early Archaic through Middle Mississippian have been found at the site, spanning at least 8,000 years.
"I am optimistic that this summer's work will shed important new light on questions about prehistoric lifeways and cultural dynamics in the Central Illinois Valley," Alveshere said in a press release. "I'm very pleased to offer our students this opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research, which will advance our understanding of American prehistory. In the past, crews encountered the Orendorf pit features serendipitously, while investigating the adjacent burial mounds. This year, we will have the benefit of a series of remote-sensing techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar, resistivity and electromagnetic survey. Surveys applying these techniques will be conducted this spring and will generate maps indicating possible pits, structures and other features that will be used to target the summer excavations. No excavations will be conducted in the burial mounds."
Field school registration is open to WIU students and students from other schools. In addition to tuition, there is a $399 field school fee for the eight-week session. Lodging is available.