ISAS curates all of the materials generated by the nationally known FAI-270 Project. This project conducted excavations on over 150 sites in the American Bottom area. Additionally, ISAS curates materials from over 3,000 other Illinois archaeological sites including Cahokia.
ISAS is a repository for many historical documents pertaining to the long association with the Illinois Archaeological Survey (IAS). The Survey is one of the country's oldest professional organizations, and these documents are a critical resource for understanding the development of North American Archaeology. In addition, the Charles J. Bareis Library, specializing in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) related documents and Eastern Woodlands archaeology, is maintained at the program offices. The recent acquisition of movable shelving units (SpacesaverTM) has greatly increased the storage capacity of our curation facilities. Due to the increased volume of additional collections from recent excavations, this storage furniture was necessary. For example, the Hoxie and the Janey B. Goode sites (both still on-going) together generated about 500 cubic feet of artifacts, not including associated documents.
Curation staff members at ISAS have re-housed our photographic records into archival-quality sleeves and boxes, including prints, slides, and negatives numbering about 94,530 as of 2/2009. Presently, we are cataloging and re-housing associated archaeological documents into acid-free file folders and boxes. There is a large backlog due to the increased pace of both recent excavations and accessions of 1980s and 1990s documents.
To help alleviate space problems, ISAS has taken the lead in Illinois by deaccessioning 600 boxes of collections in the last six years, mostly consisting of fire-cracked rock, soil samples, and modern chert samples totaling more than 1,500 pounds. Future collection strategies will negate the need to keep such samples on the shelves by careful lab analysis, then discarding. Additionally, ISAS installed Spacesaver brand archival-quality movable shelving in current curation rooms at a cost of $139,000 borne almost entirely by IDOT. As of February 2009, ISAS houses about 17,000 boxes.
We have improved climate control mostly with IDOT funding. In spring 2005, we installed a new centralized cooling unit in our auxiliary library room. In April 2007, a new cooling unit was installed that services our high security room. In summer 2008 new centralized cooling was installed in room our storage room that previously had no cooling, and walls were augmented. In 2007 and 2008 new roofing was added to the entire Nuclear Physics Lab, funded by the University.
A major focus of our program development is to continue and enhance our curation facilities in order to encourage future scholarly and student research. In addition, the staff continues to facilitate interaction with other University units, such as the Spurlock Museum, the Krannert Art Museum, the Illinois Geological Survey, the library and others, to both further the professional management and curation of its collections and to make those collections available to research communities and the public.
The 2003 acquisition of 1500 boxes of artifacts & documents, and the comparative faunal collection from the Department of Anthropology is a wonderful archaeological resource. The faunal collection will help ISAS staff to identify animal bones and shells from archaeological sites. Such a collection is integral to our understanding of diet, environmental exploitation, and shell & bone artifacts by people in the past. The 2005 acquisition from the Center for American Archaeology represents some 5,000 boxes of artifacts and associated documents. ISAS now curates the collection generated by Warren K. Moorehead, including his seminal excavations of Cahokia from the 1920s.
ISAS is committed to responsible stewardship of artifacts and documents so they will be available for research, teaching, and public outreach for years to come. One of the key legislative directives that ISAS adheres to is 36 CFR Part 79, Curation of Federally-Owned and Administered Archaeological Collections. The text of this seminal legislation is available here:
The following ISAS policies are available upon request. Please contact Dr. Laura Kozuch, curator (217) 333-0263:
For more information on archaeological curation: