IAAA Homepage

Chapter Homepage

Chapter Reports

Program Schedule

Membership Information

News and Happenings


Three Rivers Archaeological Society

Chapter Report (2002-2003)

The Three Rivers Chapter of the IAAA has just finished its first full year with our new partners at the Logan Museum located on the campus of Beloit College. Although the core paying membership of Three Rivers is generally small (approximately 10), our meetings are reaching a wide range of people from the Rockford and Rockton areas of Illinois, and the Beloit and Janesville areas of Wisconsin. Attendance at our public meetings ranges between 20 and 40 people; some of the repeat visitors are now considering becoming members. Attendance has increased greatly since the Public Affairs Department at Beloit College began to publicize our meetings. Meetings are held the second Monday of each month staring at 7 PM; no meeting is held in December. Due to the membership fluctuation, we put off elections one year in order to strengthen our base. De facto leadership of the group is by Sara L. Pfannkuche and William Green. Meetings usually include a speaker presentation followed by questions and answers. Lately, participants have taken part in a half hour lab after the meeting presentation.

Fieldwork is a valuable aspect for members of Three Rivers. Last summer many members participated in the three-month excavation of the Macktown Historic Site. The excavation started as a Midwest Archaeological Research Services, Inc. field school, but expanded into a two-month volunteer project due to unexpected funding by the Winnebago County Forest Preserve. The Macktown site is a National Register multi-component site that is located at the Macktown Forest Preserve that is owned by the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. The site is 30 acres in size and incorporates a pioneer settlement originally settled by Stephen Mack, as well as multiple prehistoric activity areas including habitation sites and shell accumulations. This year's work, to be incorporated into Sara L. Pfannkuche's dissertation, focused on the largest shell accumulation on the site (extending 75 m in length, 7 m in width, and approximately 2 m deep) and associated terraces to its south. The main shell accumulation was dated to the Early Woodland by a large ceramic concentration, consisting of over 700 sherds, that sits upon the shell layer. Numerous pit features, including one containing a Madisonware vessel and another associated with a Steuben point, were recovered. TRAS members helped excavate the site, wash artifacts, and are currently helping to refit the pottery.

In April, many members also participated in fieldwork at the Nygren Wetland Preserve, a 710-acre parcel owned by the Natural Land Institute located directly across the river from Macktown. Once again, the project will be incorporated into Pfannkuche's dissertation. Two sites were worked on: 11WO150 and 11WO452. 11WO150 is a large Archaic and Woodland site sitting on a terrace along the north shore of an oxbow lake. The area investigated was the same area worked on by the 2002 MARS, Inc. field school. At that time, a large lithic concentration and large amount of fire-cracked rock was encountered, but no diagnostic material. We hoped that we would be able to find a firepit and diagnostic material this year. Sadly, this did not occur. The area contained a plowzone and if a firepit were there, it would have been destroyed by plowing. Once again we did find a large number of lithic debitage. Maybe after the Macktown ceramics we will try to refit the lithics.

We also worked on 11WO452. This is a much smaller (30 m by 35 m and 50 cm deep) shell accumulation area within the floodplain. Much of the shell layer has been destroyed by the plow. First excavation of the site occurred during the 2002 MARS field school. We excavated again this year in order to get a larger sample of shell and non-shell fauna from the site, to better compare the site to Macktown. Much to our surprise, a layer of large-size gravel was encountered under the shell layer; this layer was not encountered during the 2002 investigations. Within the gravel layer were approximately 100 large-size sherds of pottery that is either Prairie Series or Havanaware. Analysis of these artifacts is just starting. Good news for TRAS members- more pottery to glue together.

This year TRAS is proud to partake in a largescale survey of the City of Beloit. The Planning Department of Beloit has been awarded money from the State of Wisconsin to identify archaeological sites within the city limits in order to avoid them during future development of the city. The study is being done through Beloit College and will be carried out by volunteers led by Pfannkuche. Mound locations will be re-surveyed, attempts will be made to locate Turtle Village (a historic Native American village); large tracts of areas will be surveyed, and collections will be recorded. Volunteers will be needed for three months on weekdays, weekends, and evenings and they will be participating in almost all aspects of the work. Both a technical report and a tourist brochure will be the end products of this work. If you will be heading to the Beloit area this summer and would like to participate, please contact Sara Pfannkuche.

TRAS members also enjoy a good lecture. This year we have had speakers on a variety of topics. After last yearÕs large recovery of lithic material from Nygren, we decided to watch a D. C. Waldorf video on flintknapping as well as invite flintknapper Ken Gueir to give a hands-on demonstration of flintknapping in May. In June, the exuberant speaker Craig Pfannkuche of Memory Trail Research, gave his now famous presentation "Digging Grandma's Privy." June's meeting was held at the Macktown Forest Preserve to give members a tour and show them the fieldwork opportunities for the summer. Needless to say, July, August, and September's meetings were spent working on the Macktown site. In October, Dr. Ellen Steinberg gave a presentation on "The Ancient Peruvian Necropolis of Anc.n: New Insights from Old Collections." Rochelle Lurie gave a slide show presentation on the 1994 excavation of the Late Woodland/ Mississippian New Lennox site located in the southern suburbs of Chicago. Sara Pfannkuche presented preliminary findings of the summer's fieldwork at the Macktown site in January. In conjunction with the Logan Museum's exhibit "Sealed with Smoke: Pipes and Cultural Interaction in Eastern North America," speaker Dr. Joseph Winter gave a presentation on native tobacco and Native American usage of tobacco. In March, Prof. Phillip Arnold of Loyola University discussed Postclassic sites in Veracruz, Mexico. Carrie Koster-Horan of MARS, Inc., did our latest presentation; she talked about the archaeology of one-room schoolhouse in Northern Illinois.

As you can see, TRAS talks cover topics on the whole spectrum of archaeology and related fields, covering both the prehistoric and historic periods. This year we plan on going on a fieldtrip to the nearby site of Gottschall, active participation in the Beloit survey, presentations by Beloit College Anthropology students and on current research being conducted on the Logan MuseumÕs collections, and of course building up our membership. At this time we would like to thank the Logan Museum and Beloit College for their support.