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19 July 2010
Experts dig at Native American site in Illinois

South of Jerseyville (Illinois, USA) a team of state archaeologists, students and volunteers excavating about 4 acres of land has found evidence of a 1,400-year-old Native American settlement. "We have found about 40 pits, some very large storage pits, and one bell-shaped pit that appears to have had hundreds of tons of limestone hauled in and has a flagstone floor," David Nolan, Western Illinois Field Station coordinator for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, said.
     Nolan said they evaluated the site south of Jerseyville last fall (they prefer not to define the exact location of the site) and were eager to get started excavating the site. "We have three sites - two sites on the west side of U.S. 67 and another site on the east of the present highway, about a quarter-mile south of this site," Nolan said. The archaeologists believe they have a village dating back to about 600 CE, as well as archaeological deposits going back 4,000 to 5,000 years. "The excavations are yielding very well-preserved bone fragments, as well as pottery pieces," Nolan said. "It appears this was a large communal village, but may not have been used year-round. Our later analysis of our data will have to tell us that."
     Some of the pits on the west side excavations are large, some smaller; some are storage pits, and some were trash pits. Two appear to have been kiln pits. To date, archaeologists have not found any evidence of homes, because they haven't discovered any post pits. The large bell-shaped storage pit with the flagstone flooring is shaped such that it easily could have been sealed with a clay plug to keep rodents and other small animals out of the goods stored inside.
     The materials gathered from the excavations will be sent back to the Jacksonville Field Station to be cleaned, inventoried and analyzed.

Source: The Telegraph.com (14 July 2010)

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