Tuesday, April 13, 2021

 Where People Lived on the Pecatonica River Valley During the Middle Holocene (5000-500 BCE)

Speaker: Sara Pfannkuche

April 25, 2021 • 3:30pm • Zoom!

Sara Pfannkuche joins us on Sunday, April 25 to present the penultimate lecture in this season’s offerings.  A professional archaeologist who has worked on both historic and prehistoric sites in the United States for nearly 30 years, she is completing her PhD in Anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Archaeologists attempt to identify how people adapted to their environment in the past by looking at where sites are located on the landscape. This type of analysis, known as settlement pattern analysis, is usually done in conjunction with large regional archaeological surveys. This presentation focuses on the uses of settlement pattern analyses and the application of this technique for the Pecatonica River during the Mid-Holocene. 

While settlement pattern analysis is often applied to large river systems, it has rarely been done for smaller drainages falling within the uplands of the major rivers.  

One such river is the Pecatonica River of southwest Wisconsin and north-central Illinois. The Pecatonica is the main tributary to the central valley of the Rock River. Its mouth is located within the Village of Rockton, Illinois, 3.5 miles south of Beloit, Wisconsin. The headwaters are about 120 miles to the northwest, within the Driftless Region of southwest Wisconsin.

During its short course, the river passes through a variety of landscapes: unglaciated terrain of the Driftless region, areas covered in till and lake deposits from the Illinoian glaciation, and areas covered by lake deposits and outwash dating to the Wisconsinan.

The study of the settlement patterns for this river, especially during the Mid-Holocene (5000 to 500 BCE) with the end of the Hypsithermal (a time of a drier and warmer climate) and the establishment of the modern climate, can give fresh insight on how aboriginal people dealt with shifting climate patterns away from the major river valleys. 

 Many archaeologists have applied Driftless Area settlement patterns to the entire Pecatonica Valley, but the lack of rock shelters for the glaciated half of the river valley for use as winter/spring habitation sites makes it unable to explain how people would have lived year-round.

In addition, the Driftless region’s mixed prairie/forest vegetation is not the same as the predominant prairie/savannah biomes located in the Illinois portion of the river valley. The differences in geomorphic and vegetative variables for these locations suggests that different resources were available in the areas that might influence how native people utilized the landscape. (pictured: Late Archaic point found within research area)

Our April meeting will include discussion on past climate change and its effects on a regional landscape and the aboriginal people who lived on it. How this change might have affected their lifestyle will be explored using evidence gathered through archaeological investigations.

Beginning in 2006, Sara Pfannkuche expanded her work on historic and prehistoric sites to include museums, curating archaeological collections and designing exhibits and tours. She helped open two museums including the Pick Museum of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University (February 2012) where she was Interim Director.  In 2018 she co-founded Midwest Heritage Resource Consultants, which specializes in archaeology, museum planning, curation, and exhibit design. She is also a past-President of the IAAA, of which CAS is a member organization.

Take another opportunity to explore topics in archaeology from the online connections we have expanded this year.  The April program is planned for Facebook Live, so visit our Facebook page for this and all sorts of interesting information. (However, not all sessions will be recorded for later viewing or be on Facebook Live – the March lecture was not.) We encourage you sign in for the Zoom and participate in the Q & A. 

 Lectures begin officially at 3:30pm, but members are invited to join the Zoom early, signing on at 3:15pm for an informal period to socialize and converse with our speaker before we open to the public at 3:30pm. 

Topic: Sara Pfannkuche  - Where People Lived on the Pecatonica River Valley during the Middle Holocene (5000-500 BCE)                                                           
Time: Apr 25, 2021 03:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
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