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