Prairie Research Institute News

blog navigation

Archaeological Survey

blog posts

  • Elizabeth Watts Malouchos (left) and Alleen Betzenhauser (right) map a Mississippian structure at the Pfeffer site in the region outlying Cahokia in 2008.

    ISAS experts co-edit Reconsidering Mississippian Communities and Households

  • microphone

    Virtual speaker series features Native scholars and leaders

    This spring the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will hold a virtual speaker series featuring Native scholars and leaders. The Intersections of Indigenous Knowledge and Archaeology series is intended to center Indigenous voices, increase awareness of the deep Native histories of the Eastern Woodlands, and amplify the experiences and research of Indigenous scholars and leaders. 

  • Smoke from May 31, 2013, the first day of the Thompson Ridge fire in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico. This fire grew to an area of over 23,000 acres and engulfed much of Wâavêmâ (Redondo Peak), a mountain held sacred by the people of Jemez Pueblo.

    Exploring historic fire ecosystems

  • Illinois Archaeological Predictive Model screenshot

    Archaeological predictive model helps Illinoisans balance growth with preservation

    The Illinois State Archaeological Survey offers a GIS-based tool that draws on more than a century of data to predict the probability of encountering an archaeological site in any 2-acre section of Illinois. Land owners, developers, preservationists, and other Illinoisans can use this tool to proactively assess and protect archaeological resources while enabling sustainable development. 

  • corn stalk

    Cahokia's rise parallels onset of corn agriculture

    Corn cultivation spread from Mesoamerica to what is now the American Southwest by about 4000 B.C., but how and when the crop made it to other parts of North America is still a subject of debate. In a new study, scientists report that corn was not grown in the ancient metropolis of Cahokia until sometime between A.D. 900 and 1000, a relatively late date that corresponds to the start of the city’s rapid expansion.

  • Mike Farkas, Michael Aiuvalasit and Tim Pauketat walking amid bare trees

    Rediscovering a path to the Milky Way

    PRI archaeologists investigate "borrow pits," where the people of Cahokia extracted much of the soil used to build their famous mounds. The scientists are beginning to think these ponds held more meaning for the original city builders than archaeologists once assumed. They also hope to study another overlooked feature of the city of Cahokia: a causeway that cuts through the site.

  • Mary King, Mary Simon, and Kimberly Schaefer examining a possible wooden mortar

    Deciphering the culture found in prehistoric plants

    Archaeobotanists at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey study ancient plant remains with the goal of understanding how humans used plants in the past. 

  • Rebecca Barzilai

    Reading history in the soil

    Postdoctoral researcher Rebecca Barzilai describes mapping and collecting soil samples from the floor of a religious shrine in Greater Cahokia, an ancient Native American settlement on the Mississippi River in and around present-day St. Louis.

  • map of Illinois featuring locations of archaeological sites

    Archaeological predictive modeling app offers clues for future development

    Drawing on data from more than 53,000 pre-Columbian, Native American archaeological site locations, John Lambert and the Illinois State Archaeological Survey are using GIS-based tools, statistical analysis, and over a century of archaeological work in Illinois to build the Illinois Archaeological Predictive Model (IAPM). The free IAPM is a resource for the public, landowners, state agencies and legislators, and archaeologiststo help protect and preserve Illinois' archaeological resources and promote sustainable development.

  • man at lectern smiling, gestures with one hand

    Pauketat to lead Illinois State Archaeological Survey

    Timothy R. Pauketat, a University of Illinois professor of Anthropology, is the new director of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS). Pauketat has been a visiting research scientist at ISAS since 2016.

  • ISAS Story Map re-envisions Greater Cahokia

    Archaeologists and researchers from the University of Illinois have spent over a century studying Cahokia, North America’s first native city. For the first time, this wealth of knowledge about Cahokia has being used to create a Story Map entitled, Re-Envisioning Greater Cahokia. Staff from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), a division of the Prairie Research Institute, are responsible for turning the data, maps, text, and rarely seen images into the one-of-a-kind Story Map.

  • Archaeology returns to Allerton

    The Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) will again partner with Parkland College to bring archaeology to Allerton Park for the second year in a row. This year the Parkland College field school will be led by ISAS research archaeologist and Parkland College instructor Dr. B. Jacob Skousen.

  • ISAS Featured on STORIED

    Cahokian figurines featured on STORIED.

  • PRI Celebration of Excellence (text)

    2018 Celebration of Excellence

    On April 11, the Prairie Research Institute honored employees for their outstanding achievements and excellent work. Selection committees composed of staff from across the organization reviewed multiple strong nominations before selecting the 2018 honorees.