Friday, November 8, 2019

Traces on the Land: Using Advanced Technologies to Understand the Prairie Past

Speaker: Joseph H. Wheeler III - December 8, 2019

Retired Marine Corps Colonel and archaeologist Joseph H. Wheeler III will present at the Evanston Public Library at our last meeting of 2019, at 3:30pm on December 8 (following the Members Holiday Party at 2:00pm).

His talk on Traces on the Land... will look at work with remote sensing, geophysical prospection, GIS, and other modern technologies at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington, Illinois.

As Wheeler points out, we often think of such technologies as being employed at archaeological sites of monumental architecture in faraway places, but they are equally important, and accessible, for even local archaeological investigations in the Chicago region.

The USDA Forest Service and Midewin are committed to good science, responsible stewardship of cultural resources, and to making that science and stewardship available to the public through student and adult volunteer opportunities.

LiDAR, Ground Penetrating Radar, resistivity, magnetometer, georeferencing of historic imagery and maps, thermal imaging, isotopic analysis have become the tools of the trade even in Will County, Illinois.

Some noteworthy (and fun) examples include when Midewin volunteers took all the available pre-Arsenal imagery and historic land ownership maps showing previous farm structure locations, and transferred that information to digital map software (GIS). The results were then superimposed on LiDAR-derived bare earth models to locate patterned disturbances suggesting extant farmstead features. (See page 3 graphic.) Wheeler and associates continue to follow up the results in the field through ground-truthing the potential sites.

Pre-Contact Huber Phase Site
The University of Notre Dame’s multi-year investigations at a late (c. 1600) Pre-Contact Huber Phase Site on Midewin have yielded significant results in understanding that poorly known period in late pre-history. Throughout, Notre Dame has incorporated the most current methods of remote sensing, geophysical techniques, and geochemistry. This project has also made use of approximately 7,000 volunteer hours through the Forest Service “Passport in Time” program, allowing people from around the country to participate in field work on their public land.

All of this work serves to better understand past land use and environment and in so doing, to guide a more informed approach to prairie restoration and stewardship of cultural resources.

Our speaker, Joseph H. (Joe) Wheeler III grew up in suburban Cicero, and graduated Loyola University of Chicago. He then served as an Intelligence Officer in the US Marine Corps for over 28 years. Throughout that time, he reports, “I maintained a keen interest in archaeology, participating in avocational archaeology groups whenever I was stationed in the US, and assisting local and military base archaeologists. Through my profession, I became intimately familiar with various remote sensing and imaging technologies.”

After retiring from the Marine Corps as a Colonel in 2009, Wheeler attended graduate school, studying Anthropology at the University of Wyoming on the Post 9-11 GI Bill. In 2011, he joined the US Forest Service as a field archaeologist, working throughout the American West and Southwest.

In 2013, he returned to Illinois for the first time in 34 years to serve as the Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, USDA, Forest Service, in Wilmington, Illinois on the grounds of the old Joliet Arsenal which is being restored to tall grass prairie. https://www.fs.usda.gov/midewin

We look forward to his talk on December 8. Holiday Party first!

Palimpsest Notes - from Bob Stelton


Archaeology Ain’t What It Used To Be
Archaeology used to be an arduous adventure. Alfred Maudsley’s adventuring carried him across the globe and into the jungles of the Yucatan. Brilliant insight brought him into the depths of the Yucatecan jungle with state-of-the-art cameras that would provide clear photos of structures and panels of Maya hieroglyphs that would be deciphered by future generations of scholars.
John Lloyd Stephens cast aside a career before the bar.  In 1836, he met Frederick Catherwood and the two planned their epic exploration of Central America. They recorded the actual adventures in Incidents of Travels in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan (1841).  With his paints and pencils, Catherwood added special life to that remarkable achievement.

WWII and the end of an era
Scientific archaeology’s nativity was accompanied by its expansion into the present discipline. If the aspirant expects to achieve a career in the discipline a Ph.D. is now a requisite.
World War II interrupted archaeology’s progress but proffered the miracle of Carbon-14 dating and there were other gifts.  Thermoluminescence along with a raft of new technologies followed by the miracle of LiDAR with its ability to penetrate deep jungles. The uses of DNA analysis on bones has dramatically changed archaeology. Digging has become quite meticulous at some sites where the questions being asked are most significant.  At Old Vero Man site, Florida, archaeologists are checking the dirt for ancient flora and fauna DNA (including human).
Meanwhile, Mexico, along with others, has published LiDAR images of large tracts of land online. Takeshi Inomata, an archaeologist, has discovered 27 Maya sites through examination of these images online, as reported by The New York Times.
 Recent adventures have been in the lab and not in the steamy jungle of the Petén.  Adventure now can be at home with the computer!


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Merry Holidays & Meeting

The December 8 meeting is also the date of the CAS Holiday Party, beginning at 2:00pm. Member meeting will be held during this time, with guest speaker at usual 3:30pm start time. This year Holiday Tacos are our feature. The Holiday Taco Party is free for members, but we must know how many guests we will serve.

Please RSVP to debandbob@meximayan.com before December 6.

RIP Gloria Williams

Sept 29, 1927- October 16, 2019

 Longtime member Gloria Williams passed away after a period of attempted recovery from a stroke. Gloria was an active and consistent member contributing recommendations for speakers and archaeology books for door prizes over many years. She traveled to many important sites worldwide and was an avid reader. We will miss her front row presence.

Hopewellian Mound Mysteries Uncovered


Karen Atwell Addresses Illinois Burial Mound
~ report by Michael Ruggeri ~

The Hopewell Interaction Sphere consisted of a great number of culturally related sites stretching from Ontario to Florida, the Appalachians to Missouri. The Hopewell Interaction Sphere lasted from 100 BCE-500 during the Middle Woodland period. Archaeologist Karen Atwell presented us with a very thorough and complete report on the Naples-Russell Hopewell mound complex in Pike County, Illinois in her invited lecture to the CAS on October 27.
She revealed that there are 8 mounds within the complex in the group, with the largest measuring 150 feet long, 90 feet wide, 30 feet tall. 
The largest mound is a platform style construction with ramps. It was built over time in a multi-village effort by hundreds of laborers starting at 100 BCE. The mound constructions at this site were built over a 200 year span.
Among the abundant artifacts found in burials in the mound group: an eagle pipe, a raven headed pipe and conch shells.  Black bear and grey wolf decorated canines were found in a child burial.
The main mound burial was of a male, Middle Woodland era, with a bear canine necklace, feathered staff, beads, ankle and wrist bracelets, adzes, antlers, and a Hopewell style vessel.
Other artifacts uncovered within the mounds: copper tools, mica, decorated bi-valves, a toad pipe, 4 copper celts, flintknapping tools, hammer stones, and materials from the archaic era.
The flooring for the burial complex included limestone paving, and white and yellow clay.
Many of the artifacts came from an extensive trade network stretching far to the north and south.
Karen Atwell was charged with finding out the extent of looting at the site over time and to re-construct the architecture, and to develop a complete layout of the site over time.
The Naples Mound Group is one of the largest Hopewell related sites in the Hopewell Interaction Sphere. Karen and her colleagues have worked for years at the Mound group and have found an extensive amount of trade goods and luxury items in the burials at the site. The largest mound, The Naples Mound 8, contained several burials laid out in a wide fashion within the mound.
Her talk gave us an insight into the importance of the Hopewell Interaction Sphere here in Illinois, and the importance of understanding more about this culturally rich Pre-Columbian society.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Excavations of a Hopewellian Burial Mound in Pike County

Speaker: Karen Atwell

Ms. Karen Atwell, owner of Farmland Archaeological Services, will present observations on the excavations of a Hopewellian burial mound on Sunday, October 27, beginning at our usual start time of 3:00pm at the Evanston Public Library meeting room.

Ms. Atwell’s focus will be on the Naples-Russell Mound 8 (NRM 8), an early Hopewellian burial mound located along the western bluffline of the Illinois River valley in northern Pike County.  In 1990, Center for American Archaeology excavations at the mound were conducted to determine the damage done by decades of curious individuals excavating into the mound, tree clearing, and agriculture in order to provide structural information to reconstruct the mound to its original size and shape.

Hopewellian mounds were first constructed in northern Pike County during the early Mound House phase (ca. 50 B.C.-A.D. 100). The early Mound House phase was an era of far-reaching and diverse interregional exchange in exotic artifacts and raw materials associated with Hopewellian mortuary ritual – an exchange pattern that may largely predate the advent of village-based bluff-top mound cemeteries of the later Mound House phase (ca. A.D. 100-350).

The structure of NRM 8 revealed that the mound was built as a sequence of events that were not located around a single burial feature which is more common to Hopewellian mounds.

Co-author of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey research volume Excavations at Blue Island and Naples-Russell Mounds and Related Hopewellian Sites in the Lower Illinois Valley (Farnsworth and Atwell 2015), Ms. Atwell will present the findings of the excavations  through pictures of the mound structure and the artifacts that were recovered.

Our speaker, Karen Atwell, grew up on a farm in rural Geneseo, Illinois near three archaeological
sites. These nurtured an interest in archaeology that has continued for over 40 years.  While in high school, she was introduced to archaeology by an IAAA member, and through that contact met legendary Northwestern University archaeologist Dr. Stuart Struever. That led to participation in an archaeological field school at Kampsville, Illinois. Following graduation from Northwestern, she worked for the Center for American Archeology as field director for the excavation of the Kuhlman Mound Group (necessary for the construction of Interstate 72), and as field director for Cultural Resource Management (CRM) projects specializing in mortuary projects.

She received her Masters degree from Arizona State in Archaeology with an emphasis on mortuary studies. Archeological projects in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico followed.

In 1989, Mr. Ken Farnsworth, director of the Center for American Archeology Contract Program, started the project at Naples-Russell Mound 8 in the Pike County Conservation Area. Ms. Atwell returned to Illinois to run this project and remained working for the Center for American Archeology following that project for eleven years.

In 2009, she founded her own Cultural Resource Management company, Farmland Archaeological Services. (309-507-1330).

Friday, September 27, 2019

Archaeology In and Of Chicago

The 1893 World’s Fair, the Charnley House, and the Future of Urban Archaeology - Speaker: Dr. Rebecca Graff 
(early start at 2:30pm!) 

On September 29, Dr. Rebecca Graff, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lake Forest College, opens our 2019-2020 lecture season (at 2:30pm) with an intriguing and fresh look at “what lies beneath” our very local feet.

Drawing from her upcoming book, Disposing of Modernity: The Archaeology of Garbage and Consumerism During Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair (University Press of Florida and Society for Historical Archaeology/SHA, Fall 2020), Dr. Graff will introduce her research project centered on excavations at Jackson Park, the former site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and at the Charnley-Persky House, an 1892 Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Based upon archaeological and archival research on the Fair’s ephemeral Ohio Building and a historic artifact midden at the Charnley-Persky House, this talk will engage with a critical period in the nation’s history to address the ambivalent reactions to the changing world of turn-of-the-twentieth-century urban America. 

Both the Chicago Fair and the Charnley House showed the transformative potential of new forms and technologies for daily life, many of which are still materially present. The talk will cover topics including the history of world’s fairs and expositions, the planning of the Chicago Fair, the Charnley House’s architecture and aesthetics, and how fairs created markets for new products and how the public constituted themselves as modern subjects by consuming them. It will conclude with Jackson Park’s current reappearance on the world stage as the future home of the Obama Presidential Center, and a look toward at-risk archaeological sites and the place of archaeology for Chicagoans today.

Material serving as the basis  of her forthcoming book earned Dr. Graff the 2013 Kathleen Kirk Gilmore Dissertation Award from the Society for Historical Archaeology. 

Dr. Graff received her BA in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago. 

As an historical archaeologist with research interests in the 19th- and 20th-Century urban United States, she explores the relationship between temporality and modernity, memory and material culture, and contemporary heritage and nostalgic consumption through archaeological and archival research. She has excavated at sites in Israel, Honduras, France, the Bahamas, New Orleans, San Francisco, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Chicago. 

Dr. Graff has directed excavations in several sites in Chicago as undergraduate archaeological field schools for the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and Lake Forest College at sites including the Gray-Cloud House and Mecca Flats. She is currently excavating the former site of an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lake Forest with her undergraduate students.

We look forward to her presentation opening our lecture series on September 29. 

PLEASE NOTE:  Our meeting will begin ONE HOUR EARLIER THAN USUAL, with social hour at 2:00pm, and speaker beginning at 2:30pm.

Summer Safaris 2019

Members went to The Art Institute Exhibit on Peru and Northwestern’s on Africa 

Summer safari participants enjoy viewing Peruvian textiles exhibit
led by Ray Young at The Art Institute of Chicago - photo by Matt Stelton

“Super/Natural: Textiles in the Andes” at The Art Institute 

Up-close examination of textiles from several on display in The Art Institute of Chicago special exhibition Super/Natural: Textiles in the Andes offered a unique opportunity for exploration of Peru’s Pre-Columbian cultures. The exhibition was on display February 23–June 16, 2019. Our group attended on June 13. What made the Safari special was Ray Young’s personal guided tour. Available from Amazon is a dazzling catalog.

“Caravans of Gold” Exhibit at Northwestern University’s Block Museum in Evanston.

The subtitle of the exhibit, Fragments of Time, accurately described the pieces of ceramics, textiles, glass and gold left across the Saharan Desert by caravans of camels during medieval times. CAS members enjoyed viewing the exhibit individually. Let us know what you think of our safaris.

The Morton Site: New Discoveries…..More Questions!

Provided by May Speaker Nicole Marie “Nikki” Klarmann, MA

The Morton site is a sprawling, loosely organized village site two miles upriver from Dickson
Mounds. It was named after its former owner, Joy Morton of Morton Salt, who had a hunting lodge on the property in the 1930s. The site was occupied during the 14th century ACE by Middle Mississippian people with southern affiliations and Oneota people of northwestern origin. Our May speaker addressed Community, Household & Landscape: Examining Spatial Structure for Evidence of Integration at the Morton Village Site, Fulton County, Illinois.

One aspect of the joint Dickson Mounds/ Michigan State University project was to determine the relationship between these two ethnic groups. Speaker Nicole Marie “Nikki” Klarmann’s role in the multi-faceted project was to examine the architectural remains for clues to the nature of the relationships, and degree of coalescence. The site was subjected to a magnetometry survey to locate the buried house floors and storage pits without excavation. In some cases, the indicated building locations were subjected to test excavation or “ground truthing” to test the validity of the magnetometer readings.

Since the Middle Mississippians placed their wall posts in trenches and the Oneota people did not, it was possible to determine who constructed particular structures. When Klarmann’s architectural research is combined with that of others examining different aspects of the archaeological record, such as stone tools and weapons, ceramics and animal and plant remains, it is hoped the research team will be able to determine whether or not the Mississippians and Oneota were occupying the same buildings (cohabiting), were living side by side, or were on the site at different times.

~ report by Deb Stelton ~

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Community, Household & Landscape:

Examining Spatial Structure for Evidence of Integration
at the Morton Village Site, Fulton County, Illinois
Speaker: Nicole Marie “Nikki” Klarmann, M.A.

Social Hour/Member Meetings begin at 3:00pm.
Lectures begin at 3:30pm. All are welcome.
Evanston Public Library: Community Meeting Room,
1703 Orrington Ave, Evanston 60201
May 19, 2019 Ms. Nicole Marie Klarmann 
The Fulton Morton Village Site

Ms. Nikki Klarmann asks “What happens when two populations with differing cultural identities interact and cohabitate?”  In our final program in the lecture series this year, she will propose answers to that question based on field work at the Morton Village Site in Fulton County, Illinois.

Klarmann suggests that coalescence, or the cultural reorganization and formation of multiethnic and multilingual communities, is one possible outcome.

In archaeological contexts, material culture can help determine the level of integration or coalescence between distinct groups that interacted or cohabitated. However, it should not be assumed that a one-to-one relationship between cultural materials and people exists. In many contexts of interaction, a mixture of materials attributable to differing groups of people may be found. How then can the mixing of archaeological materials be used to identify the degree of coalescence? Beyond archaeological contexts, understanding prolonged, spatially-based interactions and coalescence has larger implications for understanding today’s cultural groups who find themselves cohabitating with other groups (e.g., post migration or as refugees) and possibly affecting policy and practice that could promote integration of these migrant or refugee groups into the larger society.

Morton Village (11F2), located in Fulton County, Illinois, is the case study for this multiscalar spatial analysis. Dating to a single occupation, ca. AD 1200 to 1400, the site provides clear evidence for the cohabitation of Middle Mississippian and Bold Counselor Phase Oneota groups.  However, the level of cultural integration at the site is under-explored. Ceramic attributes and architectural styles have typically been used to discern Oneota and Mississippian contexts. Material culture provides a valuable line of evidence for examining coalescence, but how people organized themselves spatially allows an innovative and finer contextualization of the distinctions and the merging of material culture. Research adds to the scholarship of coalescence. A multi-scalar spatial approach is employed to detect the level of coalescence within the Morton Village archaeological site, integrating data from the landscape, community, and household spatial scales. Initial findings of the case study and future directions of the research will be presented.

Nikki Klarmann, MA, originally from Texas, earned a BS in Anthropology at Baylor University. While there, she excavated in Belize. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology at Michigan State University. Ms. Klarmann began working at the Morton Village archaeological site in Fulton County in the summer of 2013 as part of the joint Michigan State University and Dickson Mounds Museum Archaeological Project. For five summers since 2013, she excavated at Morton Village in a variety of roles, as a research assistant, teaching assistant, public programming supervisor, graduate student mentor, and as the coordinator of excavations, also doing archaeology lab work cleaning and cataloging artifacts recovered during excavations. Klarmann’s doctoral dissertation focuses on the spatial organization of Morton Village and whether the migrant Bold Counselor Oneota and local Middle Mississippian populations had an integrated, coalesced community at Morton Village.