Burning Down the House: Evidence for Controlled and Uncontrolled Structure Fires among the Late Woodland and Mississippian Settlements at the Orendorf Site in Fulton County, Illinois
Author(s): Andrea Alveshere
The Orendorf site (11F107), located on a bluff overlooking the central Illinois River valley, comprises a mound group and a series of Late Woodland and Mississippian habitations. The occupation of the site is characterized by a gradual migration of the community to the west through successive abandonment and rebuilding. Burned structures have been found in all Orendorf settlements, and at least two of the abandonments followed complete burning of all structures. Intensive salvage excavations of the westernmost areas were conducted during the 1970s, and research has continued through the 2017 field season, during which a Mossville-phase Late Woodland/Mississippian structure was excavated in the easternmost habitation area.
Although structure fires appear to be common to all Orendorf settlements, there is substantial variation in several characteristics of the burned house features. An analysis of these variations suggests that both controlled (intentional) and uncontrolled (either accidental or malicious) structure fires are represented among the settlements at Orendorf. "Controlled" and "uncontrolled" classes of burned structures are considered within the context of other archaeological, ethnohistoric, and ethnographic evidence for ceremonial burning, utilitarian burning, wildfires, and warfare. Special challenges in the detection and excavation of these different classes of burned structure features are also examined.
Cite this Record
Burning Down the House: Evidence for Controlled and Uncontrolled Structure Fires among the Late Woodland and Mississippian Settlements at the Orendorf Site in Fulton County, Illinois. Andrea Alveshere. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443135)
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min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;
Abstract Id(s): 22715