The Archaeology of Dickson Mounds

Cultural Change and Demographic Variation in the Life of a Late Prehistoric Cemetery
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Location: 

  • Illinois State Museum, Springfield

Event Venue: 

Thorne Deuel Auditorium

Event Audience: 

Adult
Teen

Fee: 

Free and open to the public

In 1927, Dr. Don F. Dickson, a chiropractor, began the scientific excavation of an American Indian mound in his father's back yard that would forever change the complexion of American archaeology. Leaving the 281 burials and accompanying grave offerings he found in place for public viewing, his in situ exhibit and museum would be the catalyst that first brought "new age" professional archaeologists to the Illinois and later would inspire legions of people to become students of American Indian life.

In the 1960s, construction of a new museum at Dickson Mounds required excavation in ten additional burial mounds at the site, resulting in the discovery of 823 more burials. Prior to this work, Dickson Mounds had been thought to contain only Mississippian period burials, but archaeologists would be surprised to discover that distinctive local groups of Mossville and Sepo phase Late Woodland people were also burying their dead there alongside the Mississippians—sometimes sharing the same grave with them.

The listener will be invited to step back in time via PowerPoint imagery to witness many of the dramatic changes that took place as these cultures met, exchanged ideas, and eventually blended together. Located at the margins of several major Midwestern culture areas and continuously exposed to waves of cultural change and accommodation, Dickson Mounds has opened a truly unique window to assess variability in many aspects of time-transgressive changes in lifestyle and culture, skeletal morphology, diet, disease, related health issues, and cross-cultural confederations of people who existed at the beginning of the end of prehistory.

Attendees should be aware that the program contains images of human remains.

Paul Mickey Science Series takes place on the second Wednesday of each month in the Auditorium at the Illinois State Museum. A different speaker and topic will be featured each month. For additional information, please contact events@illinoisstatemuseum.org or (217) 782-0061.

archaeological study sketch of Dickson Mounds burial

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