Ten Thousand Years in the Saline Valley of Illinois
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Carrier Mills Lions Club and the Illinois Department of Department of Transportation
Located approximately 2 miles south of the Carrier Mills Village limits is an area that has been inhabited totalling at least 2,500 years by natives of at least three different archaeological periods. The oldest, the Archaic period, was from 3000 to 4000 B.C. This was followed by inhabitants of the Woodland period which extended from perhaps 500 to 600 B.C. until 900 A.D. This third people who lived in the area are referred to by archaeologists as agriculturists, and lived at the location from approximately 1000 A.D. until 1500A.D. The south fork of the Saline River was the location of thousands of deer, buffalo and antelope. The animals were attracted to the site by their need for salt. Simply by licking the mud banks along the river the need for salt could be met. Tall grass and an abundant water supply made the area an animal paradise. The animals provided food, tools, and clothing for civilization after civilization . The Indian cherished the location where a plentiful supply of food, salt and other necessities could be secured. The site was also enhanced by its location next to a 900 acre glacial lake. Excellent preservation conditions thus permitted the recovery of a wide assortment of artifacts leading to new insights into Middle Archaic life in southern Illinois. Tools fashioned from stone and animal bones provided information about technology employed between 4000 and 3000 B.C. Plant residue and animal remains provided information about diet and food preparation. The recovery of more than 100 skeletons gave new insights on diseases and injuries of the Middle Archaic people. Methods of burial furnish important information as to how the society of the period was organized.
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