Staff Directory

Dr. Duane E. EsareyDr. Duane E. Esarey

Assistant Director

PhD Anthropology, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill


Phone: (217) 300-4437

Complete Vitae (pdf)

General Interest/Area of Focus

Duane joined Special Projects at ISAS in 2013. His research interests are focused on the archaeology of eastern North America, especially Illinois.

Concentrating on the archaeology of the Central Illinois River Valley and western Illinois, Duane spent over 25 years at Western Illinois University and the Dickson Mounds branch of the Illinois State Museum before pursuing his PhD at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.  Duane’s research interests have focused on Archaic through Colonial periods, with special attention to Colonial period, protohistoric, and post-800 A.D. prehistoric topics.

Current Research
Duane’s most recent Illinois research integrates cartographic, ethnographic, linguistic and historical evidence to provide a new and unified resolution of the 300-year-old mystery of the iconological and mythological significance of the Alton, Illinois “Piasa” account first recorded by Father Jacques Marquette in 1673.

His recently completed dissertation at University of North Carolina (entitled “Another Kind of Beads: A Forgotten Industry of the American Colonial Period”) provides the first definition and analysis of a standardized marine shell ornament industry that originated at the very beginning of the Northeast’s Dutch Colonial period.

Previous Position
Assistant Curator of Anthropology, Illinois State Museum/Dickson Mounds

Selected Bibliography

2010    The Archaeology of North Carolina. (Design/production by Duane Esarey, content from Ward and Davis 1993 Time Before History). On-line exhibit hosted by University of North Carolina, Research Laboratories of Archaeology 

2007    Rethinking the Dawn of History: The Schedule, Signature, and Agency of European Goods in Protohistoric Illinois (Robert Mazrim and Duane Esarey). Midcontinental Journal of
Archaeology 32:2:145-200.

2005    On the Conflation of Tonty and Deliette careers in Illinois Country History. Le Journal 21:1 

2001    Jacques-Nicholas Bellin. IN An Atlas of Early Maps of the American Midwest compiled by
Raymond W. Wood. pp. 6-10 Illinois State Museum Scientific Papers XXIX.

2000    The Late Woodland Maples Mills and Mossville Phase Sequence in the Central Illinois River Valley. IN Late Woodland Societies: Traditions and Transformation across the Midcontinent, edited by Thomas E. Emerson, Dale L. McElrath, and Andrew C. Fortier, pp. 387-410. Nebraska Press. 

1998    The Bold Counselor Phase of the Central Illinois River Valley: Oneota’s Middle Mississippian Margin (Duane Esarey and Lawrence A. Conrad). The Wisconsin Archeologist 79:2:38-61

1997    Seasonal Occupation Patterns in Illinois History: A Case Study in the Lower Illinois River Valley. Illinois Archaeology 9:1&2:164-219.

1994    The Joan Carrie Site: A Short-term Patrick and Dohack Phase Occupation on the American
Bottom Bluff Edge (Duane Esarey and Sissel Johannessen). Illinois Archaeology 6:1&2:58-97. 

1993    A Survey of Elaborate Mississippian Copper Artifacts from Illinois (Kelvin Sampson and Duane Esarey). In Highways into the Past, edited by T. Emerson, A. Fortier, and D. McElrath. Illinois Archaeology,Volume 5(1&2): 452-480. Illinois Archaeological Survey, Urbana. 

1992    The Lohmann Site: An Early Mississippian Center in the American Bottom (Duane Esarey and
Timothy R. Pauketat). American Bottom Archaeology - FAI 270 Site Report 25, Urbana, 178 pp.

1992    Observations on Two Tomahawk Pipes from the Central Illinois River Valley. Illinois Archaeology4:1:38-48.

1990    Archaeological Investigations at the Morton Village and Norris Farms 36 Cemetery (Sharron K. Santure, Alan D. Harn, and Duane Esarey). Illinois State Museum Reports of Investigations 45, Springfield, pp. 258.

1987    The Town Branch Sites: Archaic Encampments on the Bushnell Prairie of West Central Illinois. The Wisconsin Archeologist 68:2:95-124.

1986    Red Ocher Mound Building and Marion Phase Associations: A Fulton County, Illinois
Perspective. IN Early Woodland Archeology, ed. Kenneth Farnsworth and Thomas E. Emerson, pp. 231-243. Center for American Archeology Press.

1986    Protohistoric Oneota Material from the Clear Lake Site, Illinois. Journal of the Iowa Archaeological Society 33:75-82.

1984    The Carter Creek Site: A Weaver Phase Ring Midden in the Interior Uplands of West Central Illinois (Duane Esarey, Kelvin Sampson, and Charles Suchy). The Wisconsin Archaeologist 65:2:131-144.

1984    Mississippian and Oneota Period (G. R. Milner, T. E. Emerson, M. E. Mehrer, J. A. Williams and D. Esarey). IN American Bottom Archaeology ed. by C. J. Bareis and J. W. Porter, pp. 158-186. University of Illinois Press.

1984    Emergent Mississippian Period (John E. Kelly, Steven J. Ozuk, Douglas K.Jackson, Dale L. McElrath, Fred A. Finney, and Duane Esarey). IN American Bottom Archaeology ed. by C. J. Bareis and J. W. Porter, pp. 128-157. University of Illinois Press. 

Selected Technical Reports and Popular Publications

2013    Occupations at the Ashe Ferry site, York County, South Carolina (Brett H. Riggs and multiple authors including D. Esarey). Report in preparation for South Carolina Department of Transportation by UNC-CH Research Laboratories of Archaeology. 

2004    The Late Prehistoric Period. IN Discover Illinois Archaeology, eds. A. Berkson and M.D.
Wiant, IAAA/IAS joint publication. 

2004    Illinois as a French Colony. IN Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange. Illinois History Teacher Magazine 11:1:9-13

2004    Exploring Seventeenth-Century Illinois (Michael D. Wiant and Duane Esarey). IN Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange. Illinois History Teacher Magazine 11:1:2-5 

2000    The Liverpool Lake Site: A Late Woodland Village on the Chautauqua Unit of the Illinois River National Wildlife Refuges, Mason County, Illinois. (D. Esarey, M. D. Wiant, D. E. Harn, T. J. Martin, M. B. Schroeder, and R. E. Warren). ISM-QSC Technical Report 98-767-5, Springfield,
286 pp. 

2000    Early Stewardship of Beall Woods. The Illinois Steward 8:4:4-10.

1998    Emiquon: A Place in Nature, A Place in Time (a two part essay). The Living Museum 59:4:3-14 and 60:1:3-15.

1998    The Maples Mills Phase in Regional Perspective (Duane Esarey and Jacqueline A. Ferguson). IN Ancient Life on the Illinois River: Excavations at the Liverpool Landing Site (11F2713), West Central Illinois. ISM Quaternary Studies Program Technical Report No. 97-1076-2, Springfield. 

1997    An Evaluation of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Land Claim in Illinois (Duane Esarey and
Michael D. Wiant). ISM-QSC Technical Report 96-000-38, Springfield, prepared for the Illinois
Office of the Attorney General, pp.60.

1995    New Exhibits in an Old Place: Origins and Interpretations. The Living Museum 57:1:8-11.

1993    The Ancient Art of Decoy Fishing. The Living Museum 55:1:5-8.

1992    Early Havana Culture Pottery from the Coe Site. Illinois Antiquity 27:2:17-19.

1992    Archaeology in Peril: Illinois Sites Going Down the River. Illinois Antiquity 27:1:7-9.

1991    An 18th-century Spanish Coin from Peoria County, Illinois (Duane Esarey and Frank
Benningfield). Illinois Antiquity 26:3:4-7.

1990    An Archaeological Survey of the Banks of the Illinois River from Naples to Starved Rock Lock and
Dam. ISM-QSC Technical Report 90-557-7, submitted to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, 83 pp.

1988    An Archaeological Survey of the Illinois River from Naples to the Peoria Lock and Dam. ISMQSC
Technical Report 88-460-10, submitted to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, 69 pp.

1987    Havana's Hidden Mound. Illinois Antiquity 19:1:6-10.

1986    A New Eddyville Gorget from the Illinois River Valley. The Living Museum 48:3:40-41.

1985    Oneota Occupations Coming to Light in the Illinois River Valley. Illinois Antiquity 17:1:9-11.

1982    Final Report on Phase II Archaeological Investigations on Portions of Amax's Proposed Littleton
Mine Field and Littleton Field Haul Road, Schuyler, McDonough and Fulton Counties, Illinois (Duane Esarey with contributions by Lawrence A. Conrad and William Green). WIU-ARL Reports
of Investigations 4, Prepared for Amax Coal Company, 319 pp.

1981    The Orendorf Site: Preliminary Working Papers (complied by Duane Esarey and Lawrence A.
Conrad). WIU-ARL Completion Report for Grant 17-10012, Illinois Department of Conservation
and United States Department of the Interior, 655 pp. 

Recent conference presentations and lectures

2012    Untangling the Piasa’s Tale: Underworld Symbolism at the Heart of the Midcontinent (Duane Esarey and Vincas Steponaitis). Presented in the symposium Interpreting the art, beliefs, and symbolism of the Native people of North America: Papers in honor of Robert L. Hall. Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Baton Rouge, LA, Nov. 7-10, 2012.

2012    Late Woodland Period Occupations at the Ashe Ferry site, York County, South Carolina” (Brett H. Riggs and Duane Esarey). Conference on Native American Archaeological Research in the
Catawba/Wateree Valley, 800-1860 A.D. USC Lancaster Native American Studies Program,
Lancaster, SC, March 23, 2012.

2011    The 17th Century Northeastern Standardized Marine Shell Ornament Industry. Presented in the symposium Communities, Corridors, and Connections: Modeling Material Culture Markers of Cross-cultural Interaction in the Northeast and Midcontinent, 1500 to 1750. Midwest Archaeological Conference, LaCrosse, WI, Oct. 13-16, 2011.

2010    Symposium discussant. Rediscovering Illinois Yet Again: Early 21st Century Research in the
Central Illinois River Valley. Midwest Archaeological Conference, Bloomington, IN October 2010.

2008    Colonialism Before Contact: Interrogating theoretical limitations of contact period archaeology.
Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Knoxville, TN, Nov. 2008

2008    Disk Runtees: 17th-century horizon markers of contact and colonialism. Paper presented at the 2008 Midwest Archaeological Conference, Milwaukee, Oct. 2008.

2007    The 17th-century Midwestern Slave Trade in Colonial Context. Midwest Archaeological
Conference, South Bend, IN, Oct. 4-6, 2007.

2006    Rethinking the Dawn of History: The Schedule, Signature, and Agency of European Goods in
Protohistoric Illinois (Duane Esarey and Robert Mazrim). Midwest Archaeological Conference,
Urbana, IL, Oct. 12-14, 2006.

2005    Paleography des Indes: An Overview of the Codex Canadiensis. Presented at the Midwest Archaeological Conference, Dayton, OH. Oct. 23, 2005

2004    Mississippian Spider Redux. Presented at the 2004 meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Society, St. Louis, November 2004.

2004    Mysteries, Misdirection, Mishaps, and Misdeeds: The First 150 Years of Illinois River Maps. Presented for the lecture series “The Rivers’ Course” Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown, IL June 13, 2004

2004    Archaeology, geologic history, and the development of the Illinois River floodplain at Emiquon. Presented for the lecture series “The Rivers’ Course” Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown, IL April 2004

2004    The Illinois Indians in the 17th and 18th centuries. Presented at the Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education Workshop on Native Americans and Nature June 17, 2004, held at Dickson Mounds Museum.

2003    The Illinois Indians before 1673. Presented at the symposium The Illinois at the Dawn of Prehistory: Views from the Iliniwek Village. Society for American Archaeology, April 9-13, 2003, Milwaukee.


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