We have emerged from a long stretch of high temperatures and drought having uncovered portions of a number of features. Nearly all of these date to the early Mississippian period. However, yesterday we uncovered a large portion of a burned Oneota structure. Although outside our immediate research interests such a structure provides the opportunity to gather important information about 14th century household organization in the Central Illinois River Valley. Over the next few days we will be posting more excavation photos of our progress.
Sherds from a very unusual Ramey Incised jar featuring what may be a motif from the earlier Late Woodland period. This jar provides an important data point for our field supervisor, Christina Friberg who is comparing Ramey pots from Cahokia and the Central Illinois River Valley (CIRV). Her preliminary research has shown that Ramey Incised pot designs in the CIRV differ from those in the American Bottom where such pots were first manufactured. CIRV potters appear to have been putting their own localized spin on this decorated Cahokian vessel class.
Very impressed with our field crew’s first day of excavating. We reestablished the grid, laid out three 2 x 2 m units and excavated about 18 cm of pz in each. We placed these units to uncover several features we partially excavated last summer including a wall trench structure and a deep storage pit (see figure below).
The 2012 field season of the Living with War Archaeological Project begins tomorrow. Greg Wilson, Christina Friberg, and Jenna Santy arrive in Peoria Illinois in the early afternoon and will get to work shortly afterwards. Field school students arrive on the 23rd. This season we will be excavating at the C.W. Cooper and the Orendorf sites (see the map below). Excavations will be targeting areas with early Mississippian occupations. We are fortunate to be combining forces with a field school from Western Illinois University, Macomb directed by Dr. Patricia Anderson. Look for more updates in the next week.
A combination of backhoe trenching and hand excavation units (2 x 2 m) has conclusively revealed that the Eveland site was not a village but a small, specialized settlement consisting of several Cahokian-style ceremonial buildings. This finding supports the argument that the Eveland site represents a site unit intrusion from the American Bottom. Moreover, it can now be argued more conclusively that there were no large, nucleated villages in the CIRV in the early 12th century AD. Thus, early Mississippian inhabitants in the CIRV do not appear to have been greatly concerned with the threat of inter-group violence
Two weeks into the project the field school moved to the C.W. Cooper site where we opened up a series of 2 x 2 m units oriented north/south along a fence row. These units uncovered a dense area of early Mississippian domestic occupation. About 15 early Mississippian pit features and portions of two wall trench structures were excavated. We recovered large samples of early Mississippian paleobotanical, faunal, and artifactual remains. We also gathered important information about the spatial organization of early Mississippian households and communities. Such information is providing new insight into the pace and timing of the escalation of inter-group violence in the region. It was a great first year for this NSF funded project and we plan to return to C.W. Cooper next year.
Thank you for your ongoing interest!