Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Exploring the 14th Century Upper Mississippian Village of Noble-Wieting


Our meeting was cancelled.
The Evanston Library has cancelled all of their events as of March, 2020.

Speaker: Logan Miller, PhD
March 29, 2020

Dr. Logan Miller, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, is our speaker on March 29. He is an anthropological archaeologist with research interests in lithic
analysis and the archaeology of the Eastern Woodlands.

His talk will cover the past three summers of his archaeological excavation at Noble-Wieting to provide a glimpse into life at this Native American village in central Illinois during the 1300s AD.

During the Mississippian period (1000-1400 AD) the largest prehistoric North American city, Cahokia, existed right here in Illinois. The rise and fall of Cahokia reverberated throughout eastern North America, resulting in many population movements and new ways of life in the region.

Archaeologists refer to the new lifestyles in northern Illinois at this time as the Langford tradition. While most major Langford sites occur along the upper Illinois River and its tributaries, one site that does not fit the pattern is the village of Noble-Wieting in McLean County.

Since the early 1900s archaeologists have puzzled over the site’s anomalous geographic position. Additionally, the site not only includes Langford artifacts but those related to Cahokia or other Mississippian villages to the south and west. Cahokia was largely abandoned by about 1300 AD, providing a potential piece of the explanation for why people were in this new spot on the landscape.

The fall of Cahokia could have “pulled” some people from other Langford villages up north and “pushed” some Cahokia affiliated inhabitants to the area from the south.

As in any community, the inhabitants of Noble-Wieting shared certain similarities, as well as important differences, with their fellow villagers. Luckily for archaeologists, many of these social dynamics were likely
reflected in the houses and possessions of the inhabitants of Noble-Wieting.

This presentation will provide a comparison of the remains of houses, and their associated artifacts, from different areas of the village to illustrate what we know about life at this unique and important site.

The evidence points to inhabitants making new traditions at Noble-Wieting representing an example of ethnogenesis, a new cultural entity emerging from the interaction of two or more disparate groups.

Dr. Logan Miller is an anthropological archaeologist with research interests in stone tools in particular and the archaeology of the pre-contact Midwest in general. He has conducted fieldwork and directed field schools in Illinois and Ohio. His research covers a large extent of Midwestern history from 13,000 year old Clovis stone tools to 2,000 year old Hopewell mound builders to the study of discarded cigarette butts on the Illinois State University/ISU (supposedly)
non-smoking campus.

Dr. Miller reports that in class, he talks about how we know aliens did not build pyramids, why it is offensive to suggest they did, and other ways that archaeology applies to the world today.

He “grew up in NW Ohio but I don’t have a story about wanting to be an archaeologist from a young age. My mom always says that my brother was the one digging holes in the backyard. When it came time to pick a major/career, I was drawn to the adventure of archaeology (even in the Midwest) and luckily everything worked out.”

Dr. Miller holds a BA in Anthropology from Wright State University. His MA and PhD in Anthropology were earned at Ohio State University. Since 2015, he has been an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at ISU.

Members and the public are invited to join us for a social period beginning at 3:00pm and the talk at 3:30pm.

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