Historic Kincaid Findings to be Discussed at Annual Beckwith Lecture


River CampusCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 6, 2011 — The annual Beckwith Memorial Archaeology Lecture will be delivered by Corin Pursell, who will discuss “Kincaid: The Return to a Prehistoric Illinois Metropolis” at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the John and Betty Glenn Convocation Center at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

The event is free and open to the public.

During the lecture, Pursell will speak about the small village of Native American farmers in the Ohio River Valley that nearly 1,000 years ago transformed themselves into one of the largest pre-Colonial communities in the United States. Kincaid Mounds at its height was a mile across, surrounded by a great wooden wall and housed a population of many hundreds amidst the construction of 26 artificial mounds.

Excavations of Kincaid by the University of Chicago 70 years ago changed the face of American archaeology. Recent excavations there by Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIUC) have aided in the discovery of the locations of walls and mounds and one of the largest buildings in the ancient eastern United States, which may have hosted the town council. A revisiting of the University of Chicago’s excavation notes further reveals that death and burial at Kincaid was more like serious theatre than a cemetery.

Pursell is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at SIUC and an adjunct professor at Saint Louis University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His 11 years of research have focused on late prehistoric societies of the American Midwest and studying the religion, symbolism, monuments and pottery of ancient Native-Americans. He was trained at Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis and has since done fieldwork in Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee and southern Mexico.

The annual Beckwith Memorial Archaeology Lecture is sponsored by the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum and the Department of Global Cultures and Languages. The lecture honors Thomas Beckwith, who donated his sizeable collection of Mississippian artifacts to the University in 1913. Select pieces from the collection are on permanent display in the museum.

For more information, call the museum at (573) 651-2260.