[The Archaeology and Rock Art of the Piney Creek Ravine]
The Archaeology and Rock Art of the Piney Creek Ravine Jackson and Randolph Counties, Illinois
Mark J. Wagner, with photography by Charles Swedlund
2002, Illinois Department of Transportation and Department of Anthropology, Univeristy of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, paper
124 pages, 47 illustrations, glossary, references, 8-1/2" x 11"


The 111-acre Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve contains the highest frequency of prehistoric rock-art sites per acre of any area documented in Illinois. An archaeological survey of a portion of the preserve in 1997 recorded four prehistoric rock art sites, two of which had been previously unknown, as well as two additional prehistoric rockshelter sites. Among the prehistoric rock-art sites is the Piney Creek (11R26) site, the largest documented rock-art site in the state with over 150 carved and painted designs. These designs were documented in 1997-1998 through a combination of photography and tracing on clear acetate. Stylistic differences among the designs suggested that they are not all contemporaneous but were created at different points in time. The prevalance of winged anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures, as well as the presence of horned or eared anthropomorphs, including one that holds three spears, suggests that some of the prehistoric designs may have been created as part of shamanistic ceremonies. The designs primarily appear to date to the Late Woodland (A.D. 450-900) and Mississipian (A.D. 900-1500) periods. Excavation of a test unit through a vandalized section of the shelter floor revealed that Archaic, Woodland-period Crab Orchard, Late Woodland, and Mississipian components exist at the site.

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