Mary Simon

Staff Directory

Mary Simon

Mary Simon


B.A. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.A. Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Continuing Education, Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 Email Mary Simon
 (217) 333-0854
 Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

General Interest/Area of Focus

Mary Simon conducts general studies in paleoethnobotanty of the Midwest, with focus on sites from Illinois. She oversees an active research lab with several workers and offers a summer intern program for graduate students interested in learning the basics of archaeobotanical materials identification and reporting.


Society for American Archaeology
Midwest Archaeological Conference
Illinois Archaeological Survey
Southeastern Archaeological Society
Society for Ethnobiology

Current Research

Currently conducting a review and synthesis of Archaic Period paleoethnobotanical studies in the Midwest with focus on inter-regional variability and agricultural origins.

Conducting ongoing analysis of structural wood charcoal from burned buildings, particularly those from the Mississippian Period East St. Louis site in the American Bottom of Illinois. These studies are aimed at assessing variability in wood use among prehistoric peoples as it reflects social structure as well as functionality.

Ongoing research is focusing on Late Woodland and Mississippian patterns of plant use in northern Illinois. These studies are particularly interested in assessing the role of cultigens among these groups.

Previous Positions

Assistant Statewide Survey Coordinator for the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program 1992–2004

Selected Bibliography

Over the past 15 years, Mary Simon has completed chapters summarizing the archaeobotanical remains from many sites located across Illinois. These chapters are published in the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Reports Series, the Transportation Archaeological Research Report Series, and the FAI-270 Site Reports Volumes Series. She has also prepared short reports found in CRM compliance reports submitted to IDOT. Inquiries are welcome and she will make these available if requested.

In Press: Marginal Horticulturalists or Maize Agriculturalists? Archaeobotanical, Paleopathological, Isotopic, and Settlement Studies Relating to Langford Tradition Agricultural Practices (with T.E. Emerson and K. Hedman).

2002 “Crops Before Corn: Early Plant Cultivation in the Eastern Woodlands.” Paper presented to the East Central Illinois Archaeological Society, Urbana, Illinois.

2002 “Red Cedar, White Oak, and Bluestem Grass: The Colors of Mississippian Construction.” Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 27(2):273–308.

2000 Early Late Woodland Resource Exploitation Strategies as Seen from the Formal Gardens Site, Rock Island Illinois, (with Thomas R. Wolforth and Paul P. Kreisa). Illinois Archaeology 12(1-2):57–109.

2000 “Regional Variations in Plant Use Strategies in the Midwest during the Late Woodland.” In Late Woodland Societies: Tradition and Transformation Across the Midcontinent, edited by T. E. Emerson, D. L. McElrath, and A. C. Fortier, pp. 37–73. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1997 “Regional Variations in Plant Use Strategies in the Midwest During the Late Woodland.” Paper presented at the Late Woodland Conference, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois.

1996 “New Data and Preliminary Insights into the Cahokian Collapse” (with T. E. Emerson, E. A. Hargrave, K. Hedman, and V. Williams). Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans, Louisiana.

1996 “The Middle to Late Woodland Transition in the American Bottom” (with A. C. Fortier and D. K. Jackson). Paper presented for symposium entitled: Heartland and Frontiers: Reexamining the Late Woodland Transition. Society for American Archaeology, 61st Annual Meeting. New Orleans, Louisiana.

1993 The Wilderman Site (11S729): A Late Woodland Period Settlement in Southwestern Illinois, (with Thomas R, Wolforth). Illinois Archaeology 5(1-2):215–232.

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