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Michael Wiant - Historians Speak

Dr. Michael Wiant, one of Illinois's most renowned archaeologists, has a long and distinguished career culminating with his tenure as the director of the Dickson Mounds Museum. In 2016 he was appointed as Interim Director for the Illinois State Museum, serving until December 31, 2017 when he retired. Among Michael's interests, experiences and specialties are the recovery technique of flotation, contract archaeology, as well as interpretations of the prehistoric residents of the Illinois River valley, and dissemination of archaeological knowledge to the public.

Interview Links

Abstract

Interview Session 1 - Audio

Early career, becoming an archaeologist, Koster site & contract archaeology

Interview Session 2 - Audio

Napoleon Hollow site, Illinois State Museum, & Dickson Mounds Museum

Interview Session 3 - Audio

Archaeological highlights, changes in archaeology, and future of archaeology in Illinois


Photos

Caption:
Michael D. Wiant during his freshman year at Illinois State University in 1967. 

Where:
Normal, Illinois

When:
1967

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo. Photo taken by Christopher J. Wiant.

Caption:
Dr. Edward B. Jelks (left) and Wiant discussing excavation strategy at Constitution Island, near the West Point Military Academy, in 1971. 

Where:
Constitution Island, Near West Point, New York

When:
1971

Ownership:
May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator. Photo taken by Lee Minnerly.

Caption:
Wiant tabulated artifacts from Constitution Island, New York in 1973. 

Where:
Unknown

When:
1973

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Photo by Vidette, Illinois State University Plan map.

Caption:
A close-up view of small-scale objects recovered at the Koster site by flotation, a process of dispersing dirt in water to recover small, often fragile items. 

Where:
Eldred, Illinois

When:
Circa 1974

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Photo taken by John Hammerslough.

Caption:
Carol A. Goland and Michael Wiant overlook the Koster site excavations in 1977 where an accumulation of 30 feet of sediment contained the remains of more than a dozen periods of human occupation. 

Where:
Eldred, Illinois

When:
1977

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Photo taken by Del Baston.

Caption:
Remains of a 2,000-year-old, possibly a ritual-associated building demarcated by rock-filled postholes around its circumference, after excavated in 1980. 

Where:
Eldred, Illinois

When:
1980

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Photo by Carol A. Goland.

Caption:
In recognition of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, Dickson Mounds Museum created an exhibit to educate visitors about the impact of the war on Native Americans in Illinois. 

Where:
Lewistown, Illinois

When:
2014

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Photo by Kelvin Sampson.

Caption:
The 2015 map, Illinois Inventory of Archaeological Sites, which showed the more than 60,000 archaeological sites in Illinois. The map was based on a Lands Unsuitable for Mining program database.

Where:
Illinois

When:
2015

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Chipped stone biface examples from the Mackinaw, Illinois Cache, uncovered in 1916. In 2001, Wiant published an article on these Illinois State Museum curated artifacts. Photo by Doug Carr

Where:
Tazewell County, Illinois

When:
Unknown 

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Photo taken by Doug Carr

Caption:
In 2008, Dr. Wiant described the history and prehistory of the Illinois River valley from the bluffs overlooking The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve during an ISM Archaeology & Natural History field trip.

Where:
Lewistown, Illinois

When:
2008

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain. Photo by Doug Carr

Caption:
A photo of Dr. Michael Wiant taken at the time of his oral history interview in 2020. 

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
2020

Ownership:
ALPL Oral History Program photo



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