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Miller to explore the prehistory of Illinois during Sept. 14 archaeology lecture

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A new season of archaeology lectures at Monmouth College will begin with a talk that hits close to home.

Illinois State University anthropology professor Logan Miller will explore the prehistory of Illinois at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 in the Pattee Auditorium in the Center for Science and Business.

Titled “Recent Fieldwork at Noble-Wieting (IL): A Village on the Mississippian Frontier,” Miller’s talk is free and open to the public. The archaeology lecture series is sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America Western Illinois Society and the College’s Department of Classics.

During the Mississippian period (1000-1400 AD), Illinois was home to the largest prehistoric North American city. The rise and fall of Cahokia reverberated throughout eastern North America, resulting in many population movements and new ways of life in the region, said Miller.

“Archaeologists refer to the new lifeways in northern Illinois at this time as the Langford tradition,” he said. “While most major Langford sites occur along the upper Illinois River and the Chicagoland area, one site that does not fit the pattern is the village of Noble-Wieting in McLean County.”

Since the early 1900s, archaeologists have puzzled over the site’s anomalous nature. Was Noble-Wieting a trading outpost, set up by Langford peoples to access Mississippian goods or ideas? Or was it a refuge, established by Langford peoples but accepting disaffected Mississippians? Or was it an example of ethnogenesis, a new cultural entity emerging from the interaction of two or more disparate groups?

Recently, Illinois State University and the Illinois State Archaeological Survey returned to this important site to address these, and other, questions. Miller will review what is being learned about Noble-Wieting, as well as the many lingering questions that remain unanswered.