University News

Field School 2019 to Explore Fulton County Archeological Sites

December 11, 2018

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MACOMB, IL – A fundraising effort is underway to help cover expenses for a Summer (June and July) 2019 archaeological dig in Fulton County by the Western Illinois University Archaeological Field School.

The 2019 field school will focus on surveying and excavating the Orendorf and Rice Lake Terrace prehistoric archaeological sites along the Illinois River. The Orendorf site is a world-renowned Mississippian village and mound group on a bluff overlooking the Central Illinois river valley. It has been the site of numerous WIU excavations since the 1970s and is made up of at least four settlement sites, which resulted from the relocation of the village several times over more than 150 years.

The 2019 session will mark the first time archaeologists have had the opportunity to excavate the Orendorf Settlement Area B.

"It will be an exciting season because we now have access to a portion of the Orendorf site, called Settlement B, that has never previously been excavated," said WIU Assistant Professor Andrea Alveshere.

She added that the new dig is expected to expand the understanding of the timeline and character of the Orendorf settlement.

"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," said Alveshere. "Whether Settlement B met the same fate will be a major question for the 2019 season."

The Rice Lake Terrace site is located below Orendorf on the shore of Rice Lake, with Archaic (8000 BC - 500 BC), Woodland (500 BC - 1000 AD) and Mississippian (1000 AD - 1673 AD) cultures represented. The area has seen limited previous excavations.

The opportunity is made up of two courses, for six semester hours of credit. The first and eighth weeks of the classes will be conducted off-site and can be completed online. The second through seventh weeks will involve field and laboratory work Mondays-Fridays.
Lodging is available at WIU's Horn Field Campus, on the edge of Macomb. Transportation to the dig site is provided.

The cost of the class is based on regular WIU tuition rates, plus a $299 fee to cover transportation and equipment. Lodging is an additional $299 fee.

A fundraiser to help keep the field school well-equipped, yet affordable for participating students, will run through Jan. 31. The hope is to raise $5,000 by the deadline. Donations can be made at

For more information about the courses, visit, and to apply, visit The WIU field school's Facebook page can be found at

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