Marking and Maintaining Empty Spaces: A View from the Golden Eagle Site


The Golden Eagle (11C120) site enjoys unique status among prehistoric sites of the Lower Illinois River Valley due to its large earthen enclosure. This elliptical ditch and embankment circumscribes a number of mounds assumed to be of Middle Woodland origin (ca. 50 cal BC – cal AD 400), however, other diagnostic Middle Woodland attributes are absent. Magnetic survey and three seasons of excavations with field crews from the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville, IL have thus far revealed no significant concentrations of artifacts or other cultural residue within the enclosure. Compared to other Middle Woodland mound sites in the Lower Illinois River Valley, this pattern appears anomalous, though not unprecedented. The Kamp (11C12) and Mound House (11GE7) sites, for example, each include relatively debris-free spaces enclosed by earthen structures. Incorporating evidence both from within and beyond Illinois and the Middle Woodland period, we discuss possible motives for the creation and maintenance of spaces free of material culture.

Cite this Record

Marking and Maintaining Empty Spaces: A View from the Golden Eagle Site. Taylor Thornton, Jason King, Jason Herrmann, Jane Buikstra. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428893)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15943