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Alan Harn - Historians Speak

Alan Harn has had a distinguished career as an Illinois based archaeologist for several decades. He spent most of his career at the Dickson Mounds Museum near Lewistown, Illinois. He became a senior technician in anthropology in 1971, an assistant curator in 1980, Curator of Anthropology in 2010, and Curator Emeritus in 2017. Besides Dickson Mounds, Harn compiled a long record of work at other Illinois archaeological sites. He also has collaborated with a host of eminent Midwestern archaeologists and anthropological theorists, and was at the forefront of the transformation of the Dickson Mounds Museum from what was primarily a burial site to a regional prehistoric and environmental interpretive center.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt-Audio

Complexity of Cahokia

Abstract

Interview Session (Audio)


Photos

Caption

A shirtless Alan Harn works in an excavation site at Mitchell in 1960. The site was a 12th century Mississippian ceremonial center in Madison County, Illinois. Harn is joined by fellow archaeologist Eugene Fugle in white shirt (w/o hat).

Where:

Mitchell, Illinois

When:

1960

Ownership:

James Porter

Caption

A 1966 excavation in Dickson Mound of an early 13th century Mississippian structure. This mass grave of several individuals is being excavated by future archaeologists, Barbara Murphy, Richard Hazzard, and Lawrence Conrad.

Where:

Dickson Mound

When:

1966

Ownership:

Charles DeBusk

Caption

Harn drew this plan map in 1967-1968 when he directed the excavation of Late Woodland and Early Mississippian burials prior to museum construction at Dickson Mounds. The map shows an ossuary representing fifty-three individuals and a nearby burial.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1967-1968

Ownership:

Jean Hampton

Caption

In 1970 Harn excavated the Larson village site, near Dickson Mounds. The site was attacked and burned about A.D. 1240. Tools, equipment, food, and other items were still preserved on the house floors.

Where:

Larson village site

When:

1970

Ownership:

Virginia Ellsworth

Caption

This example illustrates Harn’s drawing and illustration skills: prehistoric human remains devastated by treponemal bone infections. The illustration appeared in Ancient Disease in the Midwest, 1978 ISM Reports of Investigations, No. 15.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1978

Ownership:

Jean Hampton

Caption

In 1980 Harn led a group in an excavation of an Early Woodland and Mississippian Morton Mound group in Fulton County. Students (foreground) are clearing near a destroyed burial mound. Harn is in the background with DM educator Diana Seider.

Where:

Fulton County

When:

1980

Ownership:

Judith Franke

Caption

Project director Harn examines a soil profile as part of a gas pipeline re-anchor project at Emiquon in the Illinois River floodplain in 2004. These excavations uncovered ancient past environmental evolution.

Where:

Emiquon

When:

2004

Ownership:

Sally McClure

Caption

Harn and museum volunteer David Stiles begin an excavation of a Lonza-Caterpillar site bison skeleton in 2005, near Peoria, Illinois.

Where:

Peoria, Illinois

When:

2005

Ownership:

Terrance Martin

Caption

Alan Harn directed an excavation of a bison skull found in 2005 at the Lonza-Caterpillar site on the Illinois River bank south of Peoria, Illinois. This animal was killed and butchered around 400 BCE, the earliest bison kill site in Illinois. (Photo: Terrance Martin)

Where:

Peoria, Illinois

When:

2005

Ownership:

Terrance Martin

Caption

Alan Harn (circa 2008) works in Dickson Mounds lab analyzing and writing descriptions of 800-year-old Mississippian smoking pipes excavated at the Larson site in Fulton County.

Where:

Dickson Mounds lab

When:

circa 2008

Ownership:

Jean Hampton

Caption

Alan Harn at the time of his oral history interview.

Where:

Unknown

When:

2019

Ownership:

ALPL Oral History Program photo

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