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Grant establishes 'Year of Archaeology'

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. — Monmouth College, in conjunction with the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), will observe the 2010-11 academic year as the “Year of Western Illinois Archaeology,” thanks in part to a Society Outreach Grant awarded recently by the AIA.

The $3,000 grant will help fund a keynote lecture during MC’s 2010 Homecoming weekend, as well as several other events to follow during the academic year.

“This is wonderful news and a great, much-deserved expression of the AIA’s recognition of Monmouth College’s long-standing leadership of the Western Illinois Society of the AIA,” said MC associate dean Bren Tooley, who assisted in preparing the grant proposal. Only 11 of the 22 grant proposals were funded.

Classics professor Tom Sienkewicz, who has served as coordinator of the Western Illinois Society for the past 25 years, said that in addition to highlighting archaeology as an enterprise, the grant will “call attention to the richly historic archaeological sites in western Illinois, particularly involving its Native American culture.” He noted that the project will also complement and contribute to the college’s new Midwest Studies program.

“Monmouth College will participate very actively in ‘The Year of Western Illinois Archaeology,’” Sienkewicz said, “organizing a core set of classes addressing various aspects of Native American history, culture and literature, including field trips to Dickson Mounds and Cahokia Mounds, as well as more local-find sites. The college will also provide the venue for a speaker series, exhibits of artifacts, workshops, a film series and luncheon roundtables for visiting specialists.”

In awarding the grant, committee chair Don Morrison wrote, “The Western Illinois Society should be very proud of the accomplishments that have led it to be selected…this project will inform your local community, promote the field of archaeology, encourage membership in the AIA, and serve as an example to other AIA local societies to develop creative projects of their own.”