Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Traveling Back in Time

We traveled back 12,000 years, but not in a time machine!  It was our sister Joyce's Honda Accord that took us to Dickson Mounds Museum, near Lewistown, Illinois, overlooking the Illinois River.

Dickson Mounds Museum welcome monument

This 85 acre site is part of a large settlement of Native Americans of the Mississippian-era, between 500 and 1300 C.E.  Several near-by towns also have found artifacts of that ancient culture.  Dickson Mounds, however, was apparently a central burial center for the area.  Archeologists estimate that there are perhaps as many as 3000 individuals buried in the mounds there.

The burial mounds were discovered in 1927 by Chiropractor Don Dickson on his family farm.  He carefully excavated some of them by removing only the dirt and leaving the skeletons and artifacts in place.  He operated a private museum of his finds until 1945 when he sold the property to the State of Illinois.

In 1965, the property was transferred to the Illinois State Museum and, in 1972, they opened there an educational and impressive three-story museum.  In 1992, in response to Native American protests, the skeletal remains buried there were protected from public view.  The current exhibits, however, illustrate the culture, lifestyle, social organization, health status, and religious beliefs of those ancient people who inhabited the Illinois River Valley up to 12,000 years ago.

We were also able to view some of the current archeological excavations being done at the Dickson Mounds.    Based upon these finds, they will continue current research underway in anthropology and ecology.  It was a great day for a museum lover like me!