American Bottom Field Station-Fairview Heights
The American Bottom Field Station (ABFS) conducts project survey and site investigations in IDOT Districts 7, 8, and 9. However, due to sprawling transportation infrastructure in the St. Louis Metro East, most of the work at ABFS is performed within the American Bottom region, the broad Mississippi River floodplain opposite St. Louis, Missouri, which contains abundant and complex archaeological resources.
1510 N. 89th Street
Broglio Site (11WM80)
In December 2012, test excavations opened several trenches within the area of the site to be impacted by road construction. Intact archaeological deposits consisting of pit features and scattered human remains were identified. Based on these results, the site was deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, triggering additional investigations in 2013. These data-recovery excavations included the expansion of previous test blocks, which ultimately exposed nine percent of the entire site area (Figure 1). A total of 149 features were defined and investigated within the ROW, 111 of which were cultural in origin (Figure 2). These features consist of 93 pits of varying size and shape and function (Figure 3), one large shallow basin, and 17 mortuary related features.
Preliminary analysis of diagnostic material recovered from the excavated features indicates that two primary periods of site use are represented – Middle/Late Archaic and Early/Middle Woodland. Thick fabric-impressed Early and Middle Woodland (600 B.C.-A.D. 400) Crab Orchard ceramics, including sherds and several jar rims, were the most frequently identified diagnostic from feature context (Figure 4). Most lithics recovered from pit features still require analysis, but a few middle Woodland lamellar blades were recovered (Figure 5, H). Other material observed from the Crab Orchard features includes burned nutshell, burned and butchered animal remains, potter’s clay, debitage, and abraders. The similarities observed between pits in terms of size, shape, and content suggest that the 93 identified pit features are mostly associated with the Early/Middle Woodland habitation component.
A Middle/Late Archaic (3500-600 B.C.) component was identified by the presence of Karnak and Helton Points (Figure 5, B-F) and the burial features. Pits related to the Crab Orchard occupations and modern septic trenches had disturbed many of the burials; however, one intact burial contained the remains of an adult female accompanied by marine shell goods, including a shell pendent and beads. Although no temporally diagnostic artifacts were recovered with the burial, the grave goods are similar to those from the Late Archaic Indian Knoll site to the south in Kentucky. ISAS Log #01138, 01197, 02058
Rieder Road Project
The first substantial occupation of this region of southwestern Illinois, occurred during the Patrick phase—a time during which a vibrant Late Woodland society, relying on a highly developed pre-corn agricultural economy, was able to develop a firm foothold in the greater St. Louis bi-state metropolitan area. People lived in large villages and hamlets scattered throughout both the rich alluvial floodplains, but also in the interior uplands. The introduction of corn into the Eastern Woodlands about A.D. 900 permanently and dramatically altered this three-century period of social stability. Local populations underwent significant transformations as a result of the new corn-driven surplus economy, which eventually enabled powerful and enterprising leaders during early Mississippian age times (A.D. 1050-1200) to finance the construction of large architectural undertakings at the only true prehistoric city north of Mexico---at the prominent nearby floodplain site of Cahokia. As Mississippi floodplain acreage became increasingly valuable, however, it was necessary to resettle whole villages from the valuable floodplain soils into the nearby upland regions. One of these areas of resettlement was the Silver Creek locality which saw a substantial population influx during Lohmann phase times. The displaced floodplain farmers were forced to rely on the more restricted, but still productive, floodplain soils associated with the smaller upland stream channels for growing corn. This upland experiment seemed to thrive for a short period of time, but was eventually cut short about A.D. 1250, possibly as a result of an extended period of drought.
The early historic American immigrants arrived in this same region following the War of 1812, and not surprisingly, faced similar challenges as their prehistoric counterparts. The early settlers were seeking land to grow both the Old World crops that they were familiar with, like wheat, oats, and barley, but also the indigenous crop of corn, which they eagerly adopted. They sought to build on land that was not frequently flooded like that of the nearby Mississippi River floodplain, and were particularly interested in the open meadowlands of the Silver Creek drainage. They were able to pasture cows, and the abundant tree groves provided construction material for houses, barns, corrals, and pigpens, and served as a ready source for heating fuel. We hope that our investigations will eventually shed light on the unique role this region played in the development of Cahokia, and in the period of American Frontier expansion.
Janey B. Goode (11S1232) | East St. Louis Mound Center (11S706) | Canaday School (11S1525) | Fingers (11S333) | Visitor’s Center – Patti Will (11S654) and Edging (11S658) | Frank Scott Parkway East Extension | Harry Billhartz #1 (11CT255)
Janey B. Goode (11S1232)
To date, the largest occupations at JBG are from the Late Woodland Patrick phase and early Terminal Late Woodland Loyd phase. Also present are more widely scattered late Terminal Late Woodland (Merrell or Edelhardt phase), Stirling phase, and late Moorehead or Sand Prairie phase Mississippian features. Numerous single-post and wall-trench structures have been excavated. Pit features are abundant and diverse, and several large post pits with extraction ramps have also been excavated. One of the more interesting and puzzling discoveries of the 2003 season is a linear ditch-like feature about 2 m wide and 50–70 cm deep (Figure 6). A 30-m long segment of the ditch has been excavated, with no evidence for internal or external posts. Its end points have yet to be uncovered. It extends northward from an old Cahokia Creek meander and exhibits multiple episodes of siltation and prehistoric re-excavation (maintenance). Possibly used for drainage and/or defense, the ditch fill is laminated, suggesting that it frequently held water. Superimposition of this ditch by Loyd phase pit features indicates an association with JBG’s earliest occupations. On the western flank of the site, a swale approximately 75 m long, 20–25 m wide and up to 2.5 m deep appears to have been deliberately filled. Most of this landscape modification was apparently performed during the Terminal Late Woodland occupations. The ditch construction and the swale filling required substantial labor investments, hinting at a previously unrecognized level of social complexity during the Terminal Late Woodland period in this area of the American Bottom.
The preservation of faunal and floral remains at JBG is excellent due to a general abundance of limestone within the features. Features with large quantities of fish bones, scales and mussel shell (some modified into artifacts) reflect the site's location near aquatic resources. Bone artifacts, especially awls, pins, and fish hooks are common, and several features produced unusually well-preserved plant materials, including charred cordage. Also, it appears that the inhabitants of JBG were involved in extraregional interaction throughout its occupation. A Stirling phase pit excavated in 2002 yielded 36 intact conch and whelk shells, a bison scapula, and two-dozen Marginella shells (Figure 7). Other features produced marine shell disc beads and pendants, Marginella beads, shark teeth, copper, nonlocal and/or unusual ceramic vessels, and worked quartz, galena, hematite, and basalt.
Investigations at Janey B. Goode will make a significant contribution to our knowledge of Late Woodland to Mississippian populations occupying the area of the East St. Louis Mound Center vicinity. Up to this date, very little has been known about the occupation of this area, particularly during the Late Woodland.
East St. Louis Mound Center (11S706)
Some of these natural source fills resembled the “buckshot” prehistoric mound fills previously encountered by ITARP in the railyard adjacent to the interstate. However, trenching for NMRC revealed that the buckshot fills were deposited during the middle to late 1800s during construction of the railyard. These fill zones, which contained Mississippian cultural debris and engineered soils, overlie a historic trash layer (Figures 9 and 10). It was likely deposited as part of the city land filling projects in the late 1800s when many of the nearby mounds were leveled. A prime candidate is the Cemetery Mound from the East St. Louis Mound Center, which was destroyed circa 1870. The presence of redeposited mound fills within the East St. Louis group locality is common and has incorrectly led some to interpret these deposits as intact mounds.
Canaday School (11S1525)
Visitor’s Center – Patti Will (11S654) and
Frank Scott Parkway East Extension
Harry Billhartz #1 (11CT255)