Jason's Journal: Digging Below the Surface

By Jason Beverlin
Deputy Director of the Illinois River Program

May 2009 — Emiquon has attracted people for thousands of years and hundreds of generations. It’s not too hard to figure out why—the biological diversity and natural resources have long provided water, food, shelter and recreation. Last summer, we were happy to welcome two partners who wanted to dig below the surface of Emiquon’s history, and we’re thrilled to welcome them back again this summer.

Students at Michigan State University, led by Dr. Jodie O’Gorman, and Dickson Mounds Museum, led by Associate Curator of Anthropology Dr. Mike Connor, have joined forces for an archaeological dig at Emiquon. The project will likely run for several more years; each year the dig lasts about six weeks from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July.

Dr. O’Gorman and her students arrived in late May again this year, and will continue the work began a year ago. Though we don’t know a lot about the Native Americans who once lived here, it’s likely that Native Americans of the Oneota culture moved to Emiquon from the northern Midwest. One of the more complex finds last year were the remains of a Mississippian house, which the archaeologists will take a closer look at this year, and they’ll also be looking for evidence of a stockade or wall that may have surrounded a village here thousands of years ago. They also found storage pits last year—some of them about five feet deep—filled with remains such as fish scales, deer and elk bones and effigy pots.

Drs. O’Gorman and Connor will analyze the archaeological findings, use GIS-technology to create maps, and continue to explore the cultures of Emiquon past. The archaeological site will be open to the public on Saturdays.

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