The Illinois Valley Archaeological Society (IVAS) will meet at the Dickson Mounds Museum auditorium. Featured speaker will be Dr. Duane Esarey, Assistant Director of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois), who will present a talk titled “Just outside Cahokia (there's an ancient history of Illinois).” This event is free and the public is invited to attend. Refreshments will be available afterwards.
The history of the Mississippian people of Illinois has been understandably dominated by the story of "Greater Cahokia" - a giant three part metropolitan area that arose near St. Louis starting around 950 AD. With the 300 year history of the southwestern Illinois Cahokian metropolis becoming well known, more attention is shifting to central Illinois in the time before, during, and after Cahokia. These are exciting times. Seven institutions are currently working out the 500 year Mississippian history of Central Illinois, providing information on twenty-one prehistoric towns in the mid-state.
ISAS is one of the largest archaeological programs in the United States and recent ISAS excavations at the middle part of the Greater Cahokia metropolis across from downtown St. Louis were the largest excavation in the United States for three years running. Concentrating on the archaeology of the Central Illinois River Valley and western Illinois, Dr. Esarey spent 25 years at Western Illinois University and Dickson Mounds Museum before pursuing his PhD at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Duane’s publications have especially focused on Illinois’ French Colonial and late prehistoric periods. His most recent research interests have provided a new and unified resolution of the 300-year-old mystery of the Alton, Illinois “Piasa monster" and his 2013 dissertation providing the first definition and analysis of the standardized marine shell ornament industry originating 400 years ago at the beginning of the Northeast’s Dutch Colonial period.
The Illinois State Museum—Dickson Mounds is located between Lewistown and Havana off Illinois Routes 78 and 97. The museum is open free to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day. Tours and special programs are available for groups with reservations. For more information call 309.547.3721 or TTY 217.782.9175 or visit the museum's web site at dicksonmounds.com. Also check out weekly updates on Facebook at “Illinois State Museum – Dickson Mounds”.