The Orendorf and Rice Lake Terrace Sites
June 7th - July 30th, 2021*
Fulton County, Illinois 

  NOTICE: The 2021 Field School is nearly at maximum enrollment.

Please email Dr. Alveshere to confirm availability before mailing in an application. Thanks!


The Orendorf and Rice Lake Terrace Prehistoric Archaeological Sites

The 2021 Western Illinois University (WIU) Archaeological Field School will focus on survey and excavations at the Orendorf and Rice Lake Terrace prehistoric archaeological sites along the Illinois River in Fulton County, Illinois. 

The Orendorf site is a world-renowned Mississippian village and mound group located on a bluff top overlooking the Central Illinois River Valley.  Orendorf has been the subject of WIU excavations since the 1970s, and has been found to comprise at least four distinct settlement sites, resulting from the relocation of the village several times over a period of 150+ years.  In 2019, we began investigation of Settlement Area B, which was previously unexcavated.  In the 2021 excavation season, we will continue these excavations, aided by a newly-completed remote-sensing survey, which is sure to expand our understanding of the sequence, duration, and character of Orendorf Settlement B, relative to the others.  Settlements C and D were decimated by fire and abandoned with an amazing variety of artifacts left in place, frozen in time, on the house floors.  Whether Settlement B met the same fate will be a major question for the 2021 season.        

The Rice Lake Terrace site is located below Orendorf on the shore of Rice Lake, an Illinois River backwater lake.  This region of the Illinois River was described by early European explorers as unparalleled in natural resources, with lakes having ducks so thick on the surface that they'd have to push them aside to pass through with a canoe.  Rice Lake is still a major destination for duck hunters today, and appears to have been a favorite spot for millennia.  The Rice Lake Terrace site has an extraordinary time depth, with Archaic (8000 BC - 500 BC), Woodland (500 BC - 1000 AD), and Mississippian (1000 AD - 1673 AD) cultures represented.  Aside from brief surveys by Cultural Resources Management teams, Rice Lake Terrace has only recently been the subject of very limited professional investigations (during the 2017 and 2019 WIU Archaeological Field Schools). 

Field school students will enjoy this rare opportunity to participate in the excavation of such an unusual, multi-component site.  Investigating the relationship between the Rice Lake Terrace site and the famous Orendorf Mississippian village, just up the bluff, will be especially intriguing.  Although the excavations will be conducted on prehistoric archaeological sites, forensic archaeological field techniques, and special considerations for forensic evidence collection, will also be discussed and demonstrated. 

Academic Info

Comprised of 2-6 semester hours, the field school includes two courses: 

  • ANTH 325 - Archaeological Laboratory Methods (1-3 credits)*
  • ANTH 326 - Archaeological Field Methods (1-3 credits)*


* The first and eighth weeks of the session will be conducted off-site (assignments will be completed online).  The first week will involve preparatory lectures and reading, and the eighth week will provide an opportunity for students to finalize and submit their field journals and laboratory analysis reports.  The second through seventh week will comprise full days of field and laboratory work (Mondays through Fridays).  All students will complete the online work.  Students may attend the full six-week field component (registering for the full six credit hours) or, if necessary, may arrange a more limited field/lab schedule.  Contact Dr. Alveshere to determine the number of credit hours to register for in accordance with your desired schedule. 

Transportation**: During the six-week field season (June 14th - July 23rd), we will drive from Macomb each field day in a WIU van, and will conduct lab work in the (air conditioned) laboratory in Macomb on at least one day (or two half-days) per week (typically on Fridays, unless we’ve stayed in, or returned early, due to rainy or dangerously-hot weather earlier in the week).  

Lodging**: Lodging will be available in the cabins at WIU’s Horn Field campus, on the southern edge of Macomb for the six-week field season (check-in June 13th, and check-out July 23rd).  The cabins have air-conditioning, bunk beds, bathrooms with flush toilets and showers, a grill and campfire area, refrigerators, microwaves, and free Wi-Fi. The Horn Field Lodge, with full kitchen and dining area, will also be available for most meals. For cabin photos, and more about Horn Field Campus, visit:

All registered students will also have full access to all of the amenities of the WIU Student Recreation Center for the full eight-week term.  

** We are optimistic that vaccination and other COVID-19 protocols will permit us to follow our established lodging and transportation procedures, outlined here.  Should the situation not allow this, we will discuss alternate options with students and adjust transportation/lodging fees accordingly. 


In addition to WIU tuition, all students will be required to pay a field school fee of $299.00, which will cover equipment, supplies, and other expenses for laboratory analyses and fieldwork.

Optional lodging in the Horn Field cabins will cost an additional $299.00 for the full six weeks, or $55.00 per week for shorter stays. Students will be responsible for their own food costs, but field school faculty will be happy to work with them to plan some low-cost group meals.


NOTICE: The 2021 Field School is nearly at maximum enrollment.

Please email Dr. Alveshere to confirm availability before mailing in an application. Thanks!

Applications, due March 1st, 2021 for full consideration, must be accompanied by a non-refundable $100.00 deposit, made payable to Western Illinois University.

One-half of the remaining balance (e.g., $249 for those staying six weeks in the cabins, $99.50 for those with other accommodations in/near Macomb) is due by April 1st, 2021.

The final fee payment must be received by May 1st, 2021. Due to logistical constraints, unless your application is not accepted, or the field school is not able to proceed as planned, all field school fee payments are non-refundable.  

Application form:  

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Daily photos and videos from the 2017 and 2019 field seasons, and updates about our preparations for the 2021 season can be found on our Facebook page at


Questions?  Contact Dr. Andrea Alveshere: