Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Venue change successful

CAS April meeting bridges a temporary hiatus from Evanston
Was there a Mississippian/Oneota culture war?

April 24, 2016 was an excellent day for its meeting at the Chica-go Sulzer Regional Library. As explained in the March edition of the Codex the meeting venue for April had been moved from the Evanston Library to the Sulzer Library.

The April hiatus from the Evanston Library has been an an-nual event for many years. In the past the move was simply across the street to the Merion Hotel. But changes at the Meri-on have made a new April venue peremptory and CAS Pro-gram Chair and Vice President, Lucy Kennedy was up to the challenge. Scoping the situa-tion she arranged for the CAS to meet at the Sulzer Library.

However, even as a search for an April demanded immedi-ate attention word came that the post meeting restaurant favorite, Dave's Italian Res-taurant on Chicago Avenue had closed permanently. That matter was settled at the An-nual Board Meeting again with Lucy's help with a deci-sion to meet at Olive Moun-tain Restaurant, 610 Davis, after the May meeting.

The Sulzer with its auditorium was an excellent substitution for the Evanston Library. It is large and amply supplied with tables and chairs and excellent acoustics.

The traditional post meeting casual dinner at Gideon Welles' Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen was, simply put-fun! It was a balmy beautiful day and many of Gid-eon's were dining al fresco. The CAS dined within where it en-joyed an intriguing menu and an overwhelming selection of beers and wine. The waitress was totally helpful while taking orders and explaining beer offering and menu details.

With much said about the meeting logistics the Codex must not overlook the excel-lent presentation of the April Guest Speaker Dr. Michael Conner.

Dr. Conner's intriguing and important subject, Archaeology of the Morton Oneota and Mississippian Site, Fulton County, Illinois, provided a metaphor for con-temporary problems as well as underscoring implications for the future and a basis for understanding similar events, like the rise and fall of ancient Pre-Columbian Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico.

The Mississippians:
A mound-building Native American civilization flour-ished in what is now the Mid-western, Eastern, and South-eastern United States from approximately C.E. 8oo to 1600.

The Oneota,
Sharing somewhat parallel Mississippian dates and shared artifacts as well as cultural aspects. However it's unclear whether they developed in situ out of Late Woodland cultures or wheth-er there was an invasive mix-ing of peoples and artifacts.

Because Dr. Conner was active in the archaeology of the Morton Site, in the Illinois River Valley his presentation at the April, CAS Meeting is significant.

The Morton site was first documented by archaeologists from the University of Chica-go in 1930. Over the next few years, they explored parts of the village and cemetery areas of the site. Lying along the bluff top overlooking the Illi-nois River valley, the Morton site was home to Native Americans periodically over several hundred years. Some-how the first excavations missed (or ignored) a low mound at the top of a steep slope.

Decades later archaeologists were called in to document how the mound had been built and to remove the human re-mains. They discovered a 700-year-old cemetery used by Oneota people. At the time, archaeologists knew very little about Oneota people and their way of life in Illinois.

The mound was carefully excavated and documented, as was the habitation site. We now know much more about the Oneota. Osteological—scientists, who study the skeleton, learned how long people lived, how tall they were, how healthy they were, and they learned about how their society was organized.

They also discovered a grim truth-Morton Site remains revealed ghastly traumas indicating that many of the interments had been badly injured or killed. Archaeologists do not know exactly who was involved in the conflict or why it occurred, but this information adds to our understanding of life in Illinois 300 years before the arrival of the first French explorers and it may illuminate the consequences of the Mississippian/Oneota confrontation.

Archaeological exploration at the Morton Site has provided a wealth of new understanding. But it seems that the new understanding has present-ed new challenges.

by Robert Stelton, Editor of the Codex

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