Three Rivers Archaeological Society
Chapter Report (2004-2005)
The Three Rivers Archaeological Society Chapter of the IAAA (TRAS) has begun what looks like its best year after a dismal end to 2004. At this time last year, we were informing you of how our attendance was up and a number of new people were interested in joining the group. Once summer began, though, attendance fell and no new members materialized. We finished the year with a core group of five and attendance at our monthly meetings of ten. This, though, is not a doomful report. Since January, attendance once again climbed to at least 20 people per meeting and we have 12 paid members in the categories of individual, family, student, and institutional.
The turnaround in attendance and membership seems to be linked to the increased publicity given to TRAS by the Public Affairs department at Beloit College. TRAS is supported by the Logan Museum at Beloit College, which gives the group a free space to meet. Karla Wheeler, Curator of Education at the museum, has become our liaison to the Public Affairs office and makes sure our press releases are submitted on time and to the newspapers that cover our region. The publication of a monthly newsletter, printed at no cost to TRAS by the Logan Museum, has also helped bring interested people and members to the meetings. The newsletter goes out by email or regular mail to all members, previous visitors, local politicians and public officials, and the IAAA president.
Officers in the group are: President and Secretary - Sara Pfannkuche; Vice- President - Bill Green; and Treasurer - Cathy Crawford. People attending the meeting come from Madison, Janesville, and Beloit in Wisconsin, and South Beloit, Rockton, Machesney Park, and Rockford in Illinois. Student visitors at the meetings have also greatly increased. Many members of the anthropology faculty of Beloit College give extra credit to students who attend the meetings.
The last year has been filled with numerous events for the group. We meet every second Monday of the month except for December. Our monthly meetings usually consist of a presentation by a guest speaker or lab work opportunities. Since the last IAAA annual meeting, TRAS speakers have included Bill Green who gave a tour of the Beloit College Mound Group (47Ro15), Clare Tolmie who presented, "The Aurignacians and Their Culture, A Second Look," Roland Rodell presenting "An Illumination on Known Cultural Periods: The Beloit College Investigations of the Diamond Bluff Site," Beloit College anthropology professor Dan Shea talking about "The North Chilean Formative," Robert Jeske presenting "Continuing Investigations at Crescent Bay Hunt Club Site, An Oneota Village on Lake Koshkonong," and Sara Pfannkuche who gave a presentation on the Archaeology of the Nygren Wetland Preserve and the Beloit Archaeological Survey.
At the most recent meeting this past Monday, three graduating Beloit anthropology students presented their senior theses in a mock conference setting. The topics were: "Analysis of Human Remains from Florida Coastal Sites," "Ash Dumps to Radiocarbon: Beloit Mounds in Perspective," and "In the Pipe Line: An Examination of the Importance of the Lower Rock River Valley in Hopewell Trade Interaction." Our next meeting in May will include a presentation by Patricia Richards of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on the Milwaukee Pauper Cemetery that was excavated in the early 1990's.
Lectures are not the only TRAS events. Last summer, several TRAS members participated in the Beloit Archaeological Survey, an archaeological survey of the City of Beloit. The survey documented the status of previously recorded sites in the city, identified areas of potential new research in the city, added all archaeological data to the city's inventory of potential landmark sites and districts, and brought attention to the city's archaeological resources by using volunteers and giving public talks. The project was funded through a Certified Local Government grant from the Wisconsin Historical Society to the City of Beloit and the Logan Museum. Currently, TRAS members are helping in the analysis phase of the project.
Last July, TRAS members joined Sauk Trail members and other interested people on a field trip to the Gottschall site (47IA80). Members went to the site on two consecutive weekends in order to see the rockshelter, look over the artifacts, and get caught up on the recent research of Dr. Robert Salzer, professor emeritus from Beloit College. Everyone was impressed with the site, good weather, and beautiful scenery. Many field trip participants said they hoped to be able to dig with Bob in 2005.
Field trips also are planned for this summer. Instead of our regular meeting in July, a field trip is scheduled to Aztalan State Park in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. We will take a site tour and learn about recent research at Aztalan. A field trip scheduled for August will focus on the archaeology of the state-line area. Sara Pfannkuche will lead the tour with stops at Beattie Park Mound Group in Rockford, the Macktown Historic Site and Nygren Wetland Preserve in Rockton, and Totem Park, Big Hill Park, the Morgan School Enclosure, and the historic Millrace in Beloit.
In order to further educate the public on archaeology in the state-line area, TRAS will co-sponsor Wisconsin Heritage and Archaeology Month program at the Logan Museum on Saturday, May 21. This year Wisconsin expanded this event to a full month instead of a week. TRAS and the Logan Museum will host a day at the museum in which demonstrators of various prehistoric technologies (flintknapping, ceramics, and groundstone work to name a few) will present their crafts. In addition, TRAS members will help identify any artifacts brought to the museum by the public. Books will also be on display to show people how archaeologists identify artifacts. We hope that the event will be the first of an annual series. The same type of event may also be held in the fall during Illinois Archaeology Awareness Month. After all, Beloit is right on the state line.
The last major goal for TRAS in 2005 is to initiate a chapter relationship with the Wisconsin Archeological Society. By doing this, TRAS will be able to meet its goal of fulfilling the needs of avocational and professional archaeologists as well as the general public on both sides of the state line. We hope to model our connection with Wisconsin in the same way that the Quad Cities Society is connected with Iowa. We would like to thank the Logan Museum and Beloit College for the support they have given us, and we look forward to continued growth and success over the next year.