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Modoc Rock Shelter (11R5), Randolph County, Illinois

This collection includes information derived from multiple years of excavation at Modoc Rock Shelter (11R5), Randolph County, Illinois, located in the central Mississippi River valley. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a National Historic Landmark. The site is situated at the base of the bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley at the junction of Barbeau Creek with the main valley at a distance of about 5 km from modern channel of the Mississippi River. More than 8.5 meters of stratified cultural and natural colluvial and alluvial deposits accumulated at the base of the sandstone bluffs under slight rock overhangs at this locality. They document a series of Early, Middle, and Late Archaic encampments with well-preserved cultural remains.

Initial excavation occurred at Modoc Rock Shelter (11R5) in summer 1952 directed by Melvin Fowler (Illinois State Museum Curator of Anthropology and University of Chicago graduate student) and Irvin Peithman (amateur archaeologist from nearby town of Chester, Illinois). During the 1952 excavations, 5 foot square units were excavated in 4-inch vertical levels to a depth of a few feet in the Main Shelter area. Sediments were screened through 1/4 inch mesh.

The 1953 excavations in the Central Pit and West Pillar areas of the Main Shelter were directed by Howard D. Winters and sponsored by the University of Chicago and the Illinois State Museum. The deep excavation in the Central Pit reached bedrock. Sediment was screened through 1/4 inch mesh.

Further excavations took place in 1955 and 1956 by Dr. Melvin Fowler under the auspices of the Illinois State Museum and the University of Chicago. In 1955, 1-foot arbitrary levels were excavated about five vertical feet of sediments from the Main Shelter area. During the 1956 field season, a 6.1 m by 9.1 m block was excavated in the West Shelter area, located about 50 m west of the Main Shelter. All sediments were screened through 1/4 inch mesh.

Subsequent excavations by the Illinois State Museum (Dr. Bonnie Styles) and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (Dr. Melvin Fowler) using improved excavation and recovery techniques took place in 1980, 1984, and 1987. Drs. Styles and Fowler directed the 1980 excavations. Sediments were waterscreened through nested screens with 1/4" and 1/16" mesh, and samples were saved for flotation with 1/16" mesh for the heavy fraction. Drs. Styles, Fowler and Ahler directed the 1984 excavations under the auspices of a National Science Foundation grant. Sediments were screened through 1/4" mesh with samples saved for flotation with 1/16" mesh for the heavy fraction. Dr. Steven Ahler directed the 1987 excavations for the Illinois State Museum with funding from the National Geographic Society. Recovery followed that used in the 1984 excavations.

Faunal data for excavations that occurred in 1953, 1956, 1980, 1984, and 1987 are included as separate projects by year. Gastropod data are presented in separate databases from the vertebrate and freshwater mussels data because snails were identified and analyzed by a different analyst.


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Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America