Friday, September 23, 2016

From Clay and Earth Experiencing the Emerald Site Beyond Cahokia the Emerald Site casts new light on Mississippian life.

The Chicago Archaeological Society will initiate the 2016-17 discovery program of archaeological adventures with an exploration of the Illinois Emerald Site escorted by Rebecca M. Barzilai, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University. Ms. Barzlai is working on her dissertation characterizing the geochemical and petrographic composition of ceramics from the Emerald Site.

Since 2012 a joint effort by Indiana University and the University of Illinois, led by project co-directors Susan Alt and Tim Pauketat [CAS Speaker April 11, 2011) with funding from the John Templeton Foundation, has conducted large scale excavations across the Emerald Site. Emerald, located 10 miles east of Cahokia in St. Clair County, Illinois prospered from the 11th to the 14th century AD.

Archaeological exploration has uncovered concentrations ofnon-domestic, ceremonial architecturealongside seeminglytemporary, short-term pilgrimhousing. Small sites surroundingthe main acropolis of ritualactivity appear to be temporary field houses where peoplemoved through, to and from Emerald, but did not live yearround. Pottery, a good distinguisher of changing cultural styles and practices, shows evidenceof people from Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Southeastern Missouri, and perhaps further afield as well as the way pottery changed slightly once these travelers had experienced Emerald.

In North America, where houses were made mostly from wood, thatch, and mud, an archaeologist’s main medium of investigation is the earth. Looking at the footprint of patterns left behind by native inhabitants, such as earth, raw
clay, pottery, and stone are our clues to what people were doing and seeing in the past. At the Emerald Site the pattern left behind leads to indications of people visiting the location from across the Midwest for religious purposes. The location was built up and used as a Mississippian shrine complex, where religious practices and activities were performed and created by Cahokian and migrant peoples from throughout the Midwest of North America.

Emerald sits on a glacial driftremnant on the western edge of the historically named ‘Looking Glass Prairie.’ Emerald is an unusual site that, in addition to an earthen pyramid, almost 20 feet high, known as the “Great Mound,” there are 11 small once flat-topped round mounds, all aligned atop an apparent artificially landscaped ridge. As this area of the site has proportionally more public and ceremonial architecture than every-day houses, the site has been recently called the Emerald Acropolis, or Emerald Shrine Complex of Greater Cahokia. There is evidence of ceremonially laden ritual deposits that bear witness to annual renewal events which suggest Cahokian practices.

Waggish Tales* of Life in Pre-Columbian America

A Dog’s life in Pre-Columbian America was a tale of shared work and devotion

During this fervid election year rivalries that welled up along with evolution of language, writing and even music can be ignored and perhaps forgotten, but not so with the CAS. Think about the rivalry between dog lovers and cat fanciers. The May guest speaker, Dr. Steven R. Kuehn, brought to the attention of his audience an archaeological report of the role of canines in Pre-Columbia America.

Archaeological exploration reveals no information regarding canine domestication. Whereas the Paleoindian companionship of humans and dogs has been uncovered but with little data. The Archaic reveals burial treatment.

The Early through the Middle Woodland markedly was the gold standard of mortuary treatment. There was increased evidence during the Late Woodland human/canine relationships in the form of increased ceremonialism but also increased evidence of unequal dining relations!

During Late Prehistoric ritual burials continued. Age issues and trauma probably due to mistreatment increased. In sum, however, life was harsh in the pre Colombian world for man and beast alike.

Our mind’s eye vision of the dog as power source for a travois is accurate. Travois (trăvoi´), a device used by Native North Americans of the Great Plains for transporting their tepees and household goods. It consisted of two poles, lashed one on either side of a dog or, later, a horse, with one end of each pole dragging on the ground. It had straps or wooden crosspieces between the poles near the open end that served as a carrier. Like the sledge, the travois was used by Native Americans before any use of wheels was known to them.

A Dog’s life in Pre-Columbian America is a tale of shared work and devotion.
*My thanks to Norman Lockridge whose wagging tales I have never forgotten.

CAS SAFARI, Peru Holiday, 2016 A Virtual visit to Peru

Recent CAS Safaris to regional archaeological sites like Aztalan in Wisconsin or Cahokia in Illinois and museums like the Field have been warmly acclaimed. But for 2016 a decision for a change brought forth the idea for a “Virtual Journey to Peru.” For many members’ destinations like the Nazca Lines were in their travel buckets; and for others, favorite visits, already achieved, were in a memory book calling for a reprise.

Safari plans congealed as Peru Holiday on July 31.

CAS members attending were, Beverly Bucur, Mary Ann Bloom, Sally Campbell, Judy and Peter Greene, Vicky Grigelaitis, Karen Memory, Mike Ruggeri, Joe andMarilyn Shidle, Marcia Streetman, Deb and Bob Stelton, Rita Tomkiewicz, Jeanne Zasadil, David Zucker and Edith and Ray Young Participated in the 2016 Safari and fundraiser at the Ceviche Restaurant. Judy Petacque, a friend of Deb and Bob, called the event “Fabulous”.

Edith planned the snack (empanadas) and the Buffet lunch, while Mike poured the wine. Deb told about the dedicated work of Maria Reiche with some interpretive help from Phyllis Pitluga (of the Adler) on the Nazca Lines. Ray talked about ideas connecting the Ceque system of the later Incas with the Nazca Lines. Bob Stelton presented videos of overflights and also Peruvian fiestas and the train to Machu Picchu. Doreen Stelton, Deb’s daughter took individuals to the “Native Market” in the bar and sold bags full of masks and mostly, African pieces from the Doris Neilson collection. Safari 2016 was a fun and beneficial learning experience.