Feature: Beecher Terrace

The Beecher Terrace Archaeological Project is the largest urban archaeology effort to date in Louisville. The project is focused on the Beecher Terrace Housing Complex, which occupies 12 city blocks on 39 acres between 9th and 13th Streets and Jefferson and Muhammad Ali Boulevard in downtown Louisville. The Beecher Terrace area lies directly to the west of the downtown area along 9th Street, which has become a symbolic and virtual “divide” between the predominantly black population of West Louisville and the eastern, more affluent predominantly white portions of the city. Built in 1939 as the second low-income residential development in Louisville specifically for African Americans, the aging complex is being replaced with newer housing. Beecher Terrace overlays the remains of more than 380 residences, commercial properties, institutions, and churches of a neighborhood developed in 1860-1870, although evidence of earlier pre-1850 occupations have been found in this early expansion of Louisville to the west. Historic research indicates the area was historically occupied by black and mixed-race working families, as well as German, Irish, and eastern European immigrants. The early neighborhood was found to have been populated by a high frequency of educated African American professionals within the decades immediately following Emancipation.

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Update on the Illinois State Museum Closure

Dear SAA Member:

As many of you are aware, the Illinois State Museum, which includes the Dickson Mounds Archaeological Site, is scheduled to close September 30. The museum will lay off all but three employees, and there will be no access to any of its collections. SAA has been working with preservationists and museum groups to oppose the closure, and we would like to update you on our efforts. On July 9, SAA submitted written testimony opposing the closure to the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. You can read our testimony here. We shared that testimony on both the SAA Facebook page (see the post here) and Twitter account (see the tweet here). Prior to submitting our testimony, we alerted membership to the potential closure via a Facebook post that outlined where to find news and how to add your voice to the opposition. To add your support, please “like” the Save the Illinois State Museum Facebook page and sign the MoveOn petition. The old adage stills holds true: there is strength in numbers. SAA members based in Illinois received an update from Government Affairs encouraging them to write to Governor Rauner to oppose the closing and providing a sample letter for their use. In addition, I wrote a Letter to the Editor opposing the closure that appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois’ top daily newspaper, on September 8. We will continue to work with our Illinois membership and cultural resources partners until all avenues have been exhausted. We are also continuing to track Illinois State Bill 0317, which would prevent Governor Rauner from closing the museum and its satellite sites. Look for more updates as events unfold.

Yours truly,

Diane Gifford-Gonzalez President

The Possible Closing of Illinois State Museums and their Facilities

The Illinois Association for Advancement of Archaeology (IAAA) would like to provide you with the following information. The future of the Illinois State Museum has been put in a precarious position due to the dispute over the state’s budget. The Governor has stated that, should there be a failure to put a balanced budget in place by July 1, the museums in Springfield and… other locations (including Dickson Mounds, Lockport etc.) would be closed. News reports discussing this topic are here:

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/656741/rauner-orders-cuts

http://www.sj-r.com/article/20150610/NEWS/150619927

If you wish to voice your opinion on this issue, one option would be the petition provided here. A link to this petition will also be available soon on the ECIAS Facebook page.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/governor-rauner-dont

https://www.facebook.com/pages/East-Central-Illinois-Archaeological-Society/1421250221465043?fref=nf

This petition is provided by MoveOn.org, a public policy advocacy group and political action committee, described here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MoveOn.org

Other options for expressing your opinion would be to write or communicate directly with key state officials, including the Governor, your state senator, and/or your state representative. We encourage you to express your own views through the channels you deem most appropriate. Thank you for your consideration of this subject. If you have any questions, please email ECIAS President Fred Christensen at fchriste@illinois.edu or Secretary Holly Labisky at BootHHL12@aol.com.

2014 KyOPA Archaeology Research Grant Awarded to Edward R. Henry (Washington University in St. Louis)

Applicant: Edward R. Henry

Abstract:

My dissertation research focuses on the timing and tempo of earthwork construction that occurred between the late–Early and early–Middle Woodland Periods (approx. 500 BCE to CE 250) in the Central Kentucky Bluegrass Region. Archaeologists have traditionally characterized this time period as belonging to the Adena/Hopewell phenomena, emphasizing considerable variation in material culture and ritual practice. Because so much attention has been focused on constructing and evaluating Adena/Hopewell cultural typologies, less attention has been paid to building chronologies, and defining historical developments, of social complexity associated with Adena/Hopewell. The construction and use of earthworks provides one context that I use as a proxy for local participation in Adena/Hopewell by social groups in Central Kentucky. By learning when and in what sequence earthworks were built, identifying what activities were undertaken within them, and recognizing how many were being used concurrently, I hope to identify historical elements of ritual practice associated with this unique expression of social complexity in Eastern North America. Statistical modeling of multiple chronometric dates from several earthwork sites is imperative to this task. In the summer of 2013 I conducted excavations at a small geometric ditch-and-embankment earthwork in northern Fayette County, Kentucky with the assistance of the University of Kentucky archaeological field school. Excavations revealed complex sequences of refilling events in the ditch, a series of post-holes outlining the interior platform, and a large amorphous sheet midden situated in the earthwork’s center. The KyOPA research grant is crucial to my creation of a radiocarbon chronology for this specific earthwork and the broader goals of my dissertation. Identifying the historical context of this earthwork and the activities undertaken there will provide a preliminary case study that I can use to present to grant agencies as I seek the funding to move forward with my dissertation research.

Value of Grant to Research:

Being a member of KyOPA over the years has offered me numerous opportunities to engage with, and learn from, Kentucky’s professional and avocational community of archaeologists. As a member of KyOPA I have been able to present my research within a friendly and supportive environment. I look forward to participating in KyOPA for years to come.

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LiDAR and geophysical data from the geometric earthwork.

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Embankment and ditch profile.

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Profile of ditch showing burning events near the base. Note: ditch was excavated to bedrock in antiquity.

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Planview image of sheet midden feature inside earthwork