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FLY ASH ANALYSIS SUPPORTS EMERGENT MISSISSIPPIAN AGRICULTURAL FEATURES AT THE LUNSFORD-PULCHER SITE (11-S-40) IN THE AMERICAN BOTTOM, ILLINOIS

Thomas J. Riley and Chaksana Said
Plains Anthropologist
Vol. 38, No. 143 (May 1993), pp. 177-186
Published by: Maney Publishing on behalf of the Plains Anthropological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25669157
Page Count: 10
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FLY ASH ANALYSIS SUPPORTS EMERGENT MISSISSIPPIAN AGRICULTURAL FEATURES AT THE LUNSFORD-PULCHER SITE (11-S-40) IN THE AMERICAN BOTTOM, ILLINOIS
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Abstract

The Lunsford-Pulcher site in the American Bottom of Illinois was suggested by Melvin Fowler to include a buried agricultural ridged field system. An alternative hypothesis suggests that the apparent ridges and furrows are the result of a contemporary agricultural soil horizon buried by aeolian loess in 1954 windstorms. Soils recovered from test excavations in the putative garden beds at the site were subjected to techniques developed by agronomists at the University of Illinois to recover diagnostic magnetite spherules that constitute a fraction of the fly ash output from high temperature industrial processes. The presence of fly ash magnetite in a sample would indicate that the soil was at the surface during the industrial era, which began in the St. Louis area around 1850. Samples from the putative agricultural layer at Lunsford-Pulcher yielded little or no fly ash, suggesting that they were laid down and buried before the industrial era. This does not constitute absolute proof that the features were garden beds. We must, however, reject the alternative hypothesis that the features were created in the twentieth century.

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