Thursday, April 19, 2018

A visit to a nearby village

Archaeological Investigations at the Ernat Site (11LS267), LaSalle County, Illinois.

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Brian Adams as our speaker of the month. Dr. Adams will introduce the CAS to the folks of a nearby Woodland village of Ernat. Dr. Adams is the Assistant Director, Statewide Surveys for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, he has been involved in cultural resource management for many years, including work on both prehistoric and historic period archaeological sites throughout the Midwest. He has a strong interest in stone tool analysis and has been an advocate for local historic preservation.

In the spring of 1987, archaeological excavations were conducted at the Ernat Site (11LS267), a multi-component occupation located in the Illinois River floodplain immediately east of Starved Rock State Park along State Route 71.

Archaeologists have recorded 7,748 Woodland Sites in Illinois. Early Woodland settlements were concentrated along major river valleys. Archaeologists studying the banks of the Illinois River in central Illinois have found many remains of small Early Woodland settlements on the river's shoreline.

Archaeological excavations at Ernat have yielded several pit and rock concentration features, including two possible basin structures, and rich lithic, ceramic, faunal and botanical assemblages, including evidence of bison exploitation and possible aquatic tuber roasting pits. Although artifacts and features indicate Early Archaic through Upper Mississippian/Late Prehistoric and possibly Contact-era occupations at the site, the majority of remains pertain to the Middle and Late Woodland periods. Of these materials, classified as Late Woodland, Swanson and Starved Rock Collared finds predominated. This talk summarizes the results of archaeological investigations at this site.

In Illinois Some Middle Woodland villages consisted of a few wigwam-type houses made of a wooden pole framework and covered with woven mats. A garden of seed-bearing plants like marsh elder might have been located nearby. In the background, members of the village are involved in the construction of an earthen burial mound. Middle Woodland villages were often located on tributary streams where they entered major river valleys. As dependence on crop plants increased, villages grew larger. Then, perhaps in response to population pressure, new settlements began to appear in upland areas during the Late Woodland. Some Late Woodland villages were organized in a circular village plan with an open central plaza area surrounded by several dozen circular houses.

The extent span of the Woodlands culture includes much of the archaeological history of Illinois and enriches our understanding of Pre-Columbian America.
Meetings of the Chicago Archeological Society are free and open to the public.

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