A paleoethnobotanical analysis of two Mississippian period Langford-tradition sites in northeast Illinois
Redmer, Bonnie Stephenson
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This thesis presents the paleoethnobotanical data compiled from the excavations conducted at the Cooke Site (11CK52) in 1986 and at Robinson Reserve (11CK2) in 1986, 1987, and 1988. These two sites are from the Mississippian Period and from the Langford Tradition. The Cooke Site is located approximately 2 kilometers from the Fox River with access to 5 environmental zones. Robinson Reserve is located on the banks of the Des Plaines River about 40 kilometers east of the Cooke Site and probably had access to 4 zones. The time frames for inhabitation were about 2 to 3 1/2 centuries apart, with Robinson Reserve being the more recent at around AD 1350. The basic questions posed in this thesis are: (1) Would one find different floral utilizations that would reflect the different environmental zones? (2) Were the inhabitants of these two sites taking the same nutritional components? (3) To what extent were they cultivating wild species and to what extent were they relying on maize? The conclusions drawn for these questions are as follows: (1) Evidence was recovered to reflect the available environmental zones, but, due to the low numbers of some of the species retrieved, no firm conclusion could be drawn as to whether these were utilized by the Indians or were mere contaminants. (2) The diets and nutritional components were found to be relatively homogenous since they had the same environmental zones from which to draw. Both consumed maize to an extensive degree. The Robinson Reserve inhabitants were probably still consuming goosefoot as well as little barley. Little evidence of goosefoot and no remains of little barley were found at the Cooke Site. (3) From the evidence obtained, one cannot conclude the degree to which wild species were being cultivated. With the exception of maize, the Cooke Site inhabitants could merely have been harvesting their dietary components from naturally growing plants in the surrounding area because the seeds retrieved were native to the area and were not found in sufficient numbers to indicate cultivation. Robinson Reserve, on the other hand, must have cultivated the pre-maize crops of little barley and goosefoot since their numbers were sufficient to warrant such a conclusion.