You can visit ISAS on Facebook: Illinois State Archaeological Society (ISAS)



  1. To promote the study of archaeology , especially in the geographical area of Illinois.
  2. To encourage the keeping of accurate records by our members of all archaeological discoveries so that such finds will have scientific value.
  3. To promote the hobby of Indian artifact collecting by encouraging the cataloguing of artifacts so that artifacts and other ethnological materials from Illinois's prehistoric and early historic past will be of importance to our membership.
  4. Take a positive stance against the breaking of any Federal, state, or local laws that serve to protect archaeological sites within the State of Illinois.
  5. To hold shows at various times and at various locations throughout the State of Illinois.
  6. To cooperate with professional archaeologists in salvage archaeology.
  7. To encourage, and where feasible, sponsor the publication of useful reports of archaeological interest to our members.
  8. To participate as a member of good standing in the Central State Archaeological Societies, Inc.


"Harvesting the Past"
The Illinois Ancient Artifacts Project

Losing Our History

The Illinois landscape has been home to people for over 10,000 years. Indian camps and villages were once thickly spread across the state. Today, often only their stone tools remain to mark these spots. Over 150 years of artifact collecting, while removing the evidence from the landscape, has often preserved the information in private artifact collections. This resource is dwindling for future collectors as increasingly larger farm equipment breaks up and scatters these fragile stone tools.

Documenting the Past

The Office of the State Archaeologist, Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) has set an ambitious goal over the next decade of recording spearheads, arrowheads, knives, and other chipped stone artifacts with known locations from each of the 102 counties in Illinois. This will provide a detailed understanding of the hunting ranges and home territories for dozens of ancient societies that once prospered here.

How Can You Help

If you or your family have field-collected artifacts from known locations and would be willing to have these recorded as part of this historic study effort, please contact us at the location nearest you, and we will arrange to have your collection recorded, and share what we know about the artifacts you own.

Northern Illinois: Tom Loebel, Email: tjl2@illinois.edu or Phil Millhouse, Email: millhouse@illinois.edu
Phone: (815) 282-0762
Central Illinois: Madeleine Evans, Email: mgarceau@illinois.edu or Duane Esarey, Email: desarey@illinois.edu
Phone: (217) 333-0667
Western Illinois: Dave Nolan, Email: djnolan@illinois.edu or Rob Hickson, Email: hickson@illinois.edu
Phone: (309) 833-3097
Southern Illinois: Steve Boles, Email: slboles@illinois.edu
Phone: (618) 394-0221

About Us: http://www.isas.illinois.edu/index.shtml

The State of Illinois recently recognized the University of Illinois' century-long history of archaeological research and collection management by designating ISAS as a state scientific survey and creating the Office of the State Archaeologist (Public Act 098-0346). ISAS is located in the University of Illinois' Prairie Research Institute along with the Water, Natural History, and Geological surveys.


Coming Soon
"Illinois Projectile Points"
The Book

The Illinois State Archaeological Survey is working on a full color, comprehensive guide to the Projectile Points of Illinois. Our goal is to accurately depict real life, full scale, true color examples of standard projectile points from every region of our fair state. In this effort, we have reached out to professionals, museums, vocational archaeologists, and collectors in every corner of the state.

Unlike other projectile point guides, this reference will use multiple complete specimens in an attempt to portray the full range of variation for specific point types as they vary from region to region, and by raw material. The various stages in the life cycle of a point are illustrated from inception to final discard.

The book is written for the general public, but should inform professionals and amateurs alike. Dr. Robert Reber, U of I professor emeritus and former editor of the Illinois Steward, has personally photographed every point depicted, and award winning Graphic Designer Lynn Smith of the Illinois Natural History Survey has provided the design layout for the colorful display of artifacts and information on each point spread.

The point types will be arranged through time, and context will be provided by introductory summaries of what is known for each major period. Relevant sidebars will provide information on technology, subsistence, village life, and associated cultural practices for each time period. We hope this will serve and inform the interested public on the underground history of our prairie state.


Fluted Point Survey Website

Tom Loebel

Thomas Loebel has launched a fluted point survey website. You can visit his site through this link: Illinois and Wisconsin Fluted Point Survey

A link image will be located on the Links page for the duration of the project.

Note: You may also be able to connect with Tom at various artifact shows. Please check with him to verify his attendance.

As collectors, you may be able to contribute valuable data for Tom's study.

The information gathered during this survey is an attempt to synthesize information that is rare and dispersed across many different collections. It is important to gather this information together in order to get the bigger picture of how humans were adapting to this region at the end of the ice age. This can only be accomplished through your cooperation and continued dedication to archaeology.

Possession of artifacts is not the question here. Recording the information and what they can tell us is.

Specific site locations will remain confidential. However, I do encourage that sites be reported to the state where they will be assigned a number and given at least minimal protection from possible future disturbances.

If you have any Fluted Points in your collection, broken or whole, or know of someone who does, please contact me.

Thomas Loebel, PhD


Listed below are the various artifact categories that I and other archaeologists from the state of Illinois are currently researching. If you have any of these items or know the whereabouts of such items, I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to record theses artifacts for scientific study. Any information provided will be kept confidential. I can be reached at (618) 394-0221 or by email: slboles@illinois.edu.

Thank you, Steve Boles (Assistant Project Archaeologist- Illinois State Archaeological Survey)

Flint clay artifacts- Flint clay is a red or pinkish form of pipestone from the St. Louis Mo. area and was used extensively by the Mississippians at Cahokia and surrounding sites. Artifacts made from flint clay were figurines, pipes, and occasionally ear-spools. Less than 50 Flint clay artifacts including fragmented objects are currently known.

Steve Boles

Mississippian Celt Caches- University of Illinois archaeologist Tim Pauletat and I have recorded several caches of celts from the American Bottom in the last few years and are currently writing an article about these. We believe that these large celt caches containing mostly large unfinished celts were deposited during community rituals that likely involved various groups or villages in the American Bottom. Large unfinished celts are occasionally found by surface collectors as singles; these singles most likely were at one time part of a larger cache.

Fluorite artifacts- I recently completed my Masters Thesis on the use of the mineral fluorite by the Mississippians in the Midwest. Artifacts manufactured from fluorite were pendants, beads, effigies, figurines, and ear plugs. Raw unworked pieces of fluorite were also occasionally deposited in the wall trenches of special use structures during the construction process for reasons unknown at present.

Ovoid Knives- Greg Perino wrote about this knife form in the Central States Journal in 1972 (Vol. 19, No. 3). Perino felt that these ovoid knives, some of which had been notched creating a small tangled base, were very early, possibly the same age as Clovis. To date none of these rare knives have been recovered from a date able context and little is know about their distribution as well.



Recently I received a request to generate higher resolution images of our ISAS logo suitable for printing business cards, adding to websites, etc. I have created two sets of images- 300 DPI and 600 DPI. The jpg. images will retain the white background when downloaded and printed, the gif. images have a transparent background. Please download these for your personal use. Click on the thumbnails to open the larger file and save them to a graphics or photo folder.

If you have any problems with the downloads, email me at Paula- ggrabin@mchsi.com and I can zip them directly to your inbox.