Prehistoric Civilization Discovered in Jackson County

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By Rachel Duensing

JACKSON COUNTY -- Archaeologists are getting a unique look into our region's distant past. Crews with the State Archaeological Survey have uncovered remnants of a prehistoric society, right near the Southern Illinois airport.

It's hard to believe that this field next to the Southern Illinois Airport was once home to a group of Native Americans called the Mississippians.  

The archaeologists were asked to survey the area ahead of road construction, when they came across artifacts from an ancient civilization. 

Survey Coordinator Patrick Durst says the work is important so that the culture is preserved.

"It's our job to come to a site location and do some investigations, part of any sort of development to make sure there aren't any cultural deposits being destroyed." Durst said. 

These archaeological digs are relatively rare in our region, due to the smaller population.  

"There's not a lot of work done here because there isn't tons of development and maybe there's less dense habitation," said Senior Research Archaeologist Tamira Brennan. "So this site's kind of unique, and we're looking to see how it relates to other things in the area."

Brennan's main focus of study is the Southern Illinois Mississipian period. She loves being able to learn about the past in an area close to home.

"It's just fascinating to see the things that people touched and the ways that they lived so long ago in a place that I live now," she says. 

The archaeologists have been working at the site since the end of 2013. They plan to take their findings back to the University of Illinois for further research.

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