About ISAS

ISAS Central Offices
ISAS Central Offices 

For 80 years the University of Illinois has studied the state's archaeological heritage. ISAS incorporates that knowledge in its programs to protect, preserve, and interpret these irreplaceable and non-renewable resources within the context of Illinois' need to encourage and promote sustainable development.

ISAS conducts multiple-scale field and laboratory research projects that concentrate on interpreting the archaeological heritage of Illinois. The quality of this research has been recognized by three national awards and has produced a 28-volume University of Illinois Press series hailed as a major landmark in North American archaeology. Furthermore, ISAS disseminates information for professional and public audiences through publications, educational exhibits, lectures, school visits, displays, and electronic media.  An integral part of ISAS’s mission includes the curation of extensive archaeological research and museum-quality collections, that include artifacts from over 3,000 Illinois sites.  ISAS actively partners with numerous public interest organizations to preserve archaeological sites in conservation areas and parks across the state. ISAS is especially interested in working cooperatively with Illinois businesses to aid in incorporating heritage management and preservation into sustainable economic development.

 Dr. Thomas E. Emerson
Dr. Thomas Emerson

State Archaeologist

ISAS occupies large central facilities on the edge of the University of Illinois' campus that include administrative offices, computer and GIS facilities, processing and research laboratories, and significant lithic, ceramic, and ethnobotanical comparative collections. The Survey curates major prehistoric and historic archaeological collections from massive transportation archaeology projects and early Cahokia Mounds World Heritage site collections from the excavations of A.R. Kelly, W.K. Moorehead, and C.J. Bareis with the associated photographic, map, and documentary records. ISAS is also one of three repositories for the records of the state’s professional organization, the Illinois Archaeological Survey. Facilities for visiting scholars are available in Champaign and at several of the field stations. The Charles J. Bareis Documents Collection, specializing in CRM-related materials, is kept at the Survey offices while researchers also have access to the main campus libraries of the University of Illinois, Urbana.


The various field stations within ISAS conduct archaeological resource and research projects that provide funding and research opportunities for students and other researchers. ISAS archaeologists hold academic professional appointments within the University. Various regional field stations conduct archaeological research and field investigations across the state.  These include the Central Illinois Field Office in Champaign covering east-central Illinois; the American Bottom Field Station in Fairview Heights performs archaeological research in the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area and most of southern Illinois; the Western Illinois Field Stations in Jacksonville and Macomb covers the central and western portions of the state; and the Northern Illinois Field Station in Elgin performs archaeological investigations in the counties just south of the Wisconsin border between the Mississippi Valley and Lake Michigan. The Survey support staff located in the central offices in Champaign provides administrative and analytical services, physical anthropology, curation, cartography/GIS, photographic and artistic resources, publishing, and computer support for the Survey Field Stations.