Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 2013 – The Collins Mound Site by Dr. Doug Jackson

Free Event

Dr. Douglas K. Jackson is leading the restoration andresearch at the Collins Mound in Vermilion County.
The Chicago Archaeological Society is very excited to haveDr. Jackson and to hear about this project on this  pre-Columbian site related to Cahokia.

Date: Sunday, March 24, 2013

Place: Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington (First Floor), Evanston.

3:00 p.m. Social: Refreshments and Fellowship.

3:15 pm   Ms. Deb Stelton: France, Prehistoric Cave Art Program

3:30 p.m. Presentation by our guest Dr. Doug Jackson “ TheCollins Site ”

Dinner: 5:00 p.m. Informal dinner with our Speaker at Dave’sItalian Kitchen.
Always plenty of Free Parking!

The Collins Archaeological Complex

What sets the Collins Complex apart as a special site is the evidence of contacts and influences emanating from the Cahokia site
Mr. Douglas Jackson reporting on the Collins Site at the March CAS meeting at the Evanston Public Library brings understanding of an Illinois pre-Columbian site acquired during five seasons of archaeological exploration. The Collins Archaeological Complex, a Late Woodland mound and village complex, is situated along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River in east-central Illinois near Danville, Illinois. It represents the most important archaeological site in that area..
Collins covers a large occupation area that includes at least 7 mounds within the site complex. Size in itself is not unusual, but what sets the Collins Complex apart as special is evidence of contacts and influences emanating from the Cahokia site.
Evidence for this contact consists of Cahokia style pottery and wall trench structures, arrow point styles, and platform mounds. In addition there are possible solstice alignments involving its mounds that may be Cahokia related.
Cahokia’s influences spread to specific far-ranging societies located throughout the south and upper Midwest. While nature of these regional interactions is not understood, some archaeologists believe a religious movement may have formed the basis for the developments at Cahokia and the spread of its influences across the Midwest. The site also has evidence of contact with other Late Woodland societies and may have been a regional gathering location.
Five seasons of excavations conducted by the University of Illinois in the 1970s, prompted by a proposed reservoir project to dam the Middle Fork. A Ph.D. dissertation is the primary source of information on the site and much of the excavated material remains unstudied at the U of I. Following the cancellation of the reservoir, the Collins Complex became part of an extensive county park.
Over the last several years, volunteers, including members of the East Central Illinois Archaeological Society, have been maintaining a site trail and removing invasive plant species from the site area. Volunteers have also begun a project to rebag the site collections which provides an excellent hands-on learning experience. In 2013, after a 35 year hiatus, a University of Illinois archaeological field school will return to the Collins Site.

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega First Chronicler of the Americas

Introduction: Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was not the first person to write about the Americas, but was the first writer to be of the Americas. To clarify my point, he was the first person born in the Americas to be published in Europe[1]. Western attitudes at the time saw Europeans as being superior to that of people born in the Americas (or anywhere else for that matter). Especially for some one of mestizo, mixed blood, it was a great achievement to be a popular writer and historian.

He is a valuable resource to archaeologists since he uniquely documented events and traditions of the New World. Certainly he was biased, but he exceptionally captured the grandeur of the lost worlds of Native Americans and their conquerors. 

Origins: Born in 1539 A.D., he spoke his mother’s Runasimi[2], language of Inca royalty, but also was well versed in Spanish, Italian, and Latin. He got the best education Peru had to offer[3] and continued his education in Spain when he was 20[4]. Born Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, he changed his name to that of a famous relative, Garcilaso de la Vega who introduced Italian style poetry into Spain.   He adds Inca or El Inca as a nod to his mother’s background as the niece of the last undisputed Emperor of the Inca.

Body of Work: His first work is a translation from Italian into Spanish of “Los dialogos de amor” by León Hebreo. Garcilaso choosing Hebreo as the source for his first published work is an interesting selection. Europe of the Renaissance is a place of great creativity and also tragic intolerance. This is an age where Jews and Muslims have been expelled from Spain and the Spanish Inquisition is there to make sure conversions are genuine. Garcilaso by choosing León Hebreo, Leon the Hebrew, is going to risk never having his work publish.   Garcilaso, possibly inspired by León, a poet who proudly proclaimed his heritage and religion with his last name, to add Inca to his own name.

In “La Florida del Inca”, Garcilaso tells one of the earliest histories of what would one day be known as the United States of America.  It is an epic tale of Hernando de Soto’s failed conquest of what we commonly call “the south”, not just Florida. Hernando de Soto was a man like Garcilaso’s father and who had participated in the conquest of Peru. Those wishing to better understand the natives of the Mississippi look to this book as one of the earliest records. Garcilaso portrays the indigenous sympathetically in an age where “Indians” were treated as less than human.

“Comentarios Reales de los Incas”, Garcilaso writes of the mythical past of his Inca ancestors. He re-tells the tales[5] told to him by the few remaining Inca nobles visiting his home when he was a child[6]. His story telling is clearly inspired by that of Roman history and religion.  The Romans gave Europe great government, empire, and civilization. Garcilaso sees the Inca in the same role. He depicts some peoples of the Americas as savages and the Inca by conquering them, brings them civilization. He sees the Inca as wise, just rulers, who improve the lives of those they conquer. In Garcilaso’s mind the only thing the Inca were missing was Jesus. This is the justification of the conquest. The Spanish bring them Christianity.

“Historia General del Peru”, tells the story of Peru after they arrival of the Spanish. It was published after Garcilaso’s death. It is surprisingly sympathetic to Gonzalo Pizarro[7], a man who was good friends with his father[8]. In Garcilaso’s mind, since the conquistadors with the Pizarros had defeated Atahualpa, they are therefore part of the new royalty of Peru[9].  He argues that this blend of conquistador and Inca traditions, such as he was, and like his childhood classmates, should be the new ruling class, not the royalty or viceroys from Spain.

Impact: Garcilaso had more than just the Spanish Inquisition concerned with the content of his work. He envisions a new people, a new nationality. He dedicated his final book to “Los indios, mestizos, y criollos”, in other words, the Indians, the mixed bloods, and the people of the old world born in Peru[10]. He envisioned the melting pot that the Americas would become. After the native uprising of Tupac Amaru II in 1780, long after Garcilaso’s death, his books were banned in Peru. It was believed that his works inspired the rebellion[11]. That rebellion foreshadowed the independence of South America by a generation. Garcilaso’s work also documented numerous Inca traditions, such as the ceremonies of Inti Raymi, a solstice celebration that was banned in South America for hundreds of years. In 1944 a group in Cuzco used his work to bring back a theatric version of Inti Raymi that is now the second largest festival in South America.

Today: Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s legacy lives on. My native Peruvian wife and I visited his boyhood home, in Cusco, which is now a museum. I had read translations of his books on Peru, but after seeing the museum it inspired me to get to know more about him. I am just beginning to understand the impact his work has had on my wife’s nation, the Americas, and on the world. Some of his ashes were moved from Cordova Spain to the Cathedral in Cuzco in the 1970’s.  Hundreds of years after his death, the man who in many ways defined Peru, finally returns to his homeland.

~ Ray Young | President |The Chicago Archaeological Society 

[1] Margarita Zamora, Language, Authority, and Indigenous History in the Comentarios reales de los Incas, (Cambridge University Press, 1988), 3.
[2] Donald G. Castanien, El Inca Garcilaso De La Vega, (New York: University of California, Davis, 1969), 21.
[3] Donald G. Castanien, El Inca Garcilaso De La Vega, (New York: University of California, Davis, 1969), 22.
[4] Donald G. Castanien, El Inca Garcilaso De La Vega, (New York: University of California, Davis, 1969), 30.
[5] Garcilaso de la Vega, Translated by John & Jeannette Varner, The Florida of the Inca, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1988), xxv.
[6] Donald G. Castanien, El Inca Garcilaso De La Vega, (New York: University of California, Davis, 1969), 27
[7] Donald G. Castanien, El Inca Garcilaso De La Vega, (New York: University of California, Davis, 1969), 25.
[8] Donald G. Castanien, El Inca Garcilaso De La Vega, (New York: University of California, Davis, 1969), 18.
[9] Garcilaso de la Vega El Inca, translated by Harold V. Livermore, Royal Commentaries of the Incas & General History of Peru, (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, INC, 2006), 181.
[10] José Anadón, Garcilaso Inca De La Vega, an American Humanist, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1998), xv.
[11] José Anadón, Garcilaso Inca De La Vega, an American Humanist, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1998), viii.