Dr. Thomas E. Emerson, RPA
M.A., Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Wisconsin
B.A. Political Science and Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Phone: (217) 244-7476
Complete Vitae (pdf)
General Interest/Area of Focus
Thomas Emerson is a specialist in North American Eastern Woodlands archaeology, especially of the Upper Mississippi River Valley region. His research has generally centered on the archaeology, religious ideology, and political economy of late prehistoric Mississippian cultures. However, his interests are diverse and his work has included mortuary analyses, subsistence studies, archaeological ethnicity, archaeometric sourcing of raw materials, faunal analysis, Great Lakes maritime research, archaeological law and compliance, heritage management, and cultural resource management. He has conducted fieldwork throughout the Great Lakes region, the Plains (Missouri Trench), and Norway.
Emerson is dedicated to the publication of archeological materials and in this role has founded nine publication series, most recently, Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology with Timothy Pauketat for AltaMira Press. He has served as editor for South Dakota Archeology and Illinois Archaeology and book review editor for Illinois Archaeology. His professional services have included activities/memberships with such groups as the National Association of State Archaeologists; Committee on Public Archaeology, Society for American Archaeology; the Illinois Interagency Coal Mining Committee; Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials Steering Committee, Midcontinental Archaeometry Working Group, UIUC; RPA Recruitment Committee; and the SAA Cultural Resource Management Award Committee. He was also the primary author of Illinois’ major archaeological laws, Archaeological and Paleontological Resources Protection Act (20 ILCS 3435) and the Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act (20 ILCS 3440), as well as, portions of the Illinois State Agency Historic Resources Preservation Act (20 ILCS 3420).
Pipestone Sourcing Project. Joint project with Randall Hughes, Illinois State Geological Survey and Sarah Wisseman, Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials Program, to identify the pipestone sources used for Cahokia-style figurines and Hopewell effigy and plain platform pipes. Currently developing PIMA technology to source artifacts throughout the North American midcontinent. The latest NSF grant has expanded our research to consider Middle Woodland uses of catlinite and Illinois and Ohio pipestone.
Upper Mississippian Tribalization Project. This research focuses on diet, health, and mortuary practice of Upper Mississippian populations in the Midwest and the impact of the Cahokian political, religious, and cultural florescence on these populations. It involves analysis of physical attributes of populations including isotopic and C14 data and a reanalysis of earlier cultural and mortuary evidence collected by UIUC investigators.
Cahokian Collapse Project. Project began in 1993 and involves the detailed re–examination of the physical anthropology, isotope analysis, C14 dating, and cultural history of the Moorehead–Sand Prairie transition to address the timing and conditions preceding the collapse of the Cahokian polity.
2010 to present Director, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Priarie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1998 to present Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Urbana-Champaign
1998-2008 Director, Laboratory of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1994-2009 Director, Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1984-1994 Chief Archaeologist/State Archeologist, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
1979-1982 Site Director, FAI-270 Archaeological Mitigation Project, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1978-1979 Field Director, Lake Francis Case and Crow Creek Projects, University of South Dakota
1976-1977, 1982-1984 Private Archaeological Consultant
1973-1974 Field Director, Orendorf Project, Upper Mississippi Valley Archaeological Research Program
2016 Society for American Archaeology’s Award for Excellence in Cultural Resource Management. Presented for Research at the SAA Annual meeting, April 8, Orlando, FL.
2015 Shanghai Archaeological Forum Field Discovery Award for Rediscovery and Large-Scale Excavation of Cahokia’s East St. Louis Precinct. Award presented by the Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing in recognition of being one of the top ten most important archaeological field discovery in the world, 2015.
2014 Midwest Archaeological Conference Distinguished Career Award. Presented at the Midwest Archaeological Conference 58th Annual meeting, October 2-4, Champaign IL.
2014 Illinois Archaeology Career Achievement Award. Presented by the Illinois Archaeological Survey at the 58th Annual Meeting, October 2, Champaign, IL.
2014 Charles R. McGimsey III – Hester A. Davis Distinguished Service Award. Presented by the Register of Professional Archaeologists at the Society of American Archaeology meetings, Austin, TX, April 25.
2011 FHWA Environment Excellence Award for Archaeological Investigations of New Mississippi River Bridge. Presented at International Conference on Ecology and Transportation, Seattle WA, August 21-25.
2010 Exemplary Human Environment Initiative Award - Project Notification System for Section 106 Tribal Consultation (IDOT-BDE). Presented for development and implementation of a web-based process of tribal consultations.
2002 The Robert L. Stigler, Jr., Lectures in Archaeology, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. November 21, 2002
2001 Department of Anthropology nominee for the Chancellor Academic Professional’s Excellence Award.
1997 Distinguished Service Award. Department of Anthropology, UIUC.
1996 Charles J. Bareis Distinguished Service Award presented by the Illinois Archaeological Survey for “accomplishments that are extraordinary in every sense of the word and are of a positive and lasting quality". Awarded for organizing a four-year effort to save the Grand Village of the Illinois from destruction by development.
2016 Paradigms Lost: Reconfiguring Cahokia's Mound 72 Beaded Burial. (T. Emerson, K. Hedman, E. Hargrave, D. Cobb, and A. Thompson). American Antiquity 81(3):405–425.
2016 The Dangers of Diversity: The Consolidation and Dissolution of Cahokia, Native North America’s First Urban Polity. (T. Emerson and K. Hedman). In Beyond Collapse: Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization, and Transformation in Complex Societies, edited by Ronald K. Faulseit, pp. 147–175. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper No. 42. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
2015 The Earth Goddess Cult at Cahokia. In Medieval Mississippians: The Cahokian World, edited by T. Pauketat and S. Alt, pp. 54–60. School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, NM.
2015 An American Indian City. (T. Pauketat, T. Emerson, M. Farkas, and S. Baires). In Medieval Mississippians: The Cahokian World, edited by T. Pauketat and S. Alt, pp. 21–31. School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, NM.
2014 Immigrants at the Mississippian Polity of Cahokia: Strontium Isotope Evidence for Population Movement. Slater, P.A., K.M. Hedman, and T.E. Emerson. Journal of Archaeological Science 44:117–127.
2013 The Allure of the Exotic: Reexamining the Use of Local and Distant Pipestone Quarries in Ohio Hopewell Pipe Caches. (Thomas E. Emerson, Kenneth B. Farnsworth, Sarah U. Wisseman, and Randall E. Hughes). American Antiquity 78(1):48-67.
2013 A Mississippian Conflagration at the East St. Louis Civic-Ceremonial Precinct in Illinois and Its Political-Historical Implications. (T. Pauketat, A. Fortier, S. Alt, T. Emerson). Journal of Field Archaeology. (Accepted).
2012 Ritual Black Drink Consumption at Cahokia (Patricia L. Crown, Thomas E. Emerson, Jiyan Gu, W. Jeffrey Hurst, Timothy R. Pauketat, and Timothy Ward). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States Vol. 109(35):13944-13949.
2012 Cahokia Interaction and Ethnogenesis in the Northern Midcontinent (Chapter 33).
In The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology, edited by Timothy R. Pauketat, pp.398-409. University of Oxford Press, Oxford and New York.
2012 Re-envisioning Eastern Woodlands Archaic Origins (Chapter 37). (Dale L. McElrath and Thomas E. Emerson). In The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology, edited by Timothy R. Pauketat, pp. 448-459. University of Oxford Press, Oxford and New York.
2012 Managing the Unexpected: The East St. Louis Mound Group and the New Mississippi River Bridge (T. Emerson and B. Koldehoff). The SAA Archaeological Record, November, pp. 17-21.
2012 Refining the Identification of Native American Pipestone Quarries in the Midcontinental United States (Sarah U. Wisseman, Randall E. Hughes, Thomas E. Emerson, Kenneth B. Farnsworth). Journal of Archaeological Science 39:2496-2505.
2012 Oakwood Mound: A Langford Mortuary Site in Will County, Illinois (Michael Strezewski, Kristin M. Hedman, and Thomas E. Emerson). The Wisconsin Archeologist 93(2):3-107.
2011 Sourcing and Interpreting the St. Francois Raptor Figurine (Thomas E. Emerson and Steven L. Boles). Illinois Archaeology 23(1-2):158-172.
2010 Close to Home? Pipestone Quarry Utilization in the Mid-continental United States. (S. Wisseman, R. Hughes, T. Emerson and K. Farnsworth). In Ancient Mines and Quarries: A Trans-Atlantic Perspective edited by M. Brewer-LaPorta, A. Burke, and D. Field, pp. 142-161. Oxbow Books, Oxford.
2010 Langford Mortuary Patterns as Reflected in the Material Service Quarry Site in the Upper Illinois River Valley. (Thomas E. Emerson, Kristin M. Hedman, Robert E. Warren, and Mary L. Simon). The Wisconsin Archeologist Vol. 91(1):1-77.
2010 Constructing the Past: Essays in Honor of John A. Walthall. (Volume editor, T. Emerson). Illinois Archaeology Vol. 22, Nos. 1 and 2.
2010 Contextualizing Flint Clay Cahokia Figures at the East St. Louis Mound Center. (Thomas Emerson and Steve Boles). Illinois Archaeology 22(2):473-490.
2010 AMS 14C Dating of Human Bones using Sequential Pyrolysis and Combustion of Collagen. (Hong Wang, Stanley H. Ambrose, Kristin M. Hedman, Thomas E. Emerson). Radiocarbon 52(1): pp 157-163.
2009 The Eastern Woodlands Archaic and the Tyranny of Theory. (T. Emerson and D. McElrath). In Archaic Societies: Diversity and Complexity Across the Midcontinent, edited by T. Emerson, D. McElrath, and A. Fortier, pp. 23-38. State University of New York Press, Albany.
2008 Locating American Indian Religion at Cahokia and Beyond. (T.E. Emerson, S.M. Alt, T.R. Pauketat). In Religion, Archaeology, and the Material World, edited by Lars Fogelin, pp. 216-236. Occasional Paper No. 36, Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois.
2008 Historical-Processual Archaeology and Culture Making: Unpacking the Southern Cult and Mississippian Religion (T. Emerson and T. Pauketat). In Belief in the Past: Theoretical Approaches to the Archaeology of Religion, edited by David.S. Whitley and Kelley Hays-Gilpin, pp.167-188. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
2007 Cahokia and the Evidence for Late Pre-Columbian Warfare in the North American Midcontinent. Chapter contribution in Problems in Paradise: Conflict and Violence Among the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, edited by Richard J. Chacon and Ruben G. Mendoza. Submitted to University of Arizona, Tucson.
2004 Using a Portable Spectrometer to Source Archaeological Materials and to Detect Restorations in Museum Objects. (S. Wisseman, T. Emerson, M. Hynes, R. Hughes). Journal of American Institute of Conservation.
2003 Materializing Cahokia Shamans. Southeastern Archaeology 22(2): 135-154.
2003 The Sourcing and Interpretation of Cahokia-Style Figures in the Trans-Mississippi South and Southeast. (T. Emerson, R. Hughes, M. Hynes, S. Wisseman). American Antiquity 68(2): 287-314.
2003 Death and Ritual in Early Rural Cahokia. (T. Emerson, Eve Hargrave, and Kristin Hedman). In Theory, Method, and Practice in Modern Archaeology, edited by R. J. Jeske, and D. K. Charles, pp. 163-181. Praeger, Westport, CT.
2002 Embodying Power and Resistance at Cahokia (T. Emerson and T. Pauketat). In The Dynamics of Power edited by M. O'Donovan, pp. 105-125. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper No. 30. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
2002 Mineralogical Approaches to Sourcing Eastern Woodlands Pipes and Figurines. (Sarah U. Wisseman, Duane M. Moore, Randall E. Hughes, Mary R. Hynes, Thomas E. Emerson.) Geoarchaeology 17(7): 689-715.
2002 An Introduction to Cahokia 2002: Diversity, Complexity, and History. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 27(2): 127-148.
2001 Interpreting Discontinuity and Historical Process in Midcontinential Late Archaic and Early Woodland Societies. (T. Emerson, and D. McElrath). In The Archaeology of Traditions: Agency and History Before and After Columbus, edited by T.R. Pauketat, pp. 195-217. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
2000 Strangers in Paradise: Recognizing Ethnic Mortuary Diversity on the Fringes of Cahokia (Emerson and Eve Hargrave). Southeastern Archaeology 19:1-23.
2000 Figurines, Flint Clay Sourcing, the Ozark Highlands, and Cahokian Acquisition (Emerson and Randall E. Hughes). American Antiquity 65(1):79-101.
1999 Review Feature: Cahokia and the Archaeology of Power (Emerson, W. Dancey, T. Pauketat, A. Whittle, E. DeMarrais, W. DeBoer, and A. Kehoe). Cambridge Archaeological Journal 9(2): 249-275.
1999 The Langford Tradition and the Process of Tribalization on the Middle Mississippian Borders. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 24(1): 3-56.
1999 Representations of Hegemony as Community at Cahokia (T. Pauketat and Emerson). In Material Symbols: Culture and Economy in Prehistory, edited by J. Robb, pp. 302-317. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper No. 26, Carbondale, Illinois.
1997 Cahokia and the Archaeology of Power. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
1997 Cahokia Elite Ideology and the Mississippian Cosmos. In Cahokia: Ideology and Domination in the Mississippian World, edited by T. Pauketat and T. Emerson, pp. 190-228. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
1997 Reflections from the Countryside on Cahokian Hegemony. In Cahokia: Ideology and Domination in the Mississippian World, edited by T. Pauketat and T. Emerson, pp.167-189. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
1996 Preserving the Shipwrecks of the Prairie State. Illinois Archaeology 8(1&2): 1-22.
1993 The Osteology and Archaeology of the Crow Creek Massacre (P. Willey and T. Emerson). In Prehistory and Human Ecology of the Western Prairies and Northern Plains, edited by J. Tiffany. Plains Anthropologist 38(145), Memoir 27:227–269.
1993 Saving the Great Nobb: A Case Study in the Preservation of Cahokia's Monks Mound through Passive Management (Emerson and W. Woods). In Highways into the Past, edited by T. Emerson, A. Fortier, and D. McElrath. Illinois Archaeology 5(1&2): 100–107. Illinois Archaeological Survey, Urbana.
1992 The Late Prehistory and Protohistory of Illinois (Emerson and J. Brown). In Calumet and Fleur–De–Lys: French and Indian Interaction in the Midcontinent, edited by J. Walthall and T. Emerson, pp. 77-125. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.
1991 The Ideology of Authority and the Power of the Pot (T. Pauketat and T. Emerson). American Anthropologist 93: 919-941.
1991 The Search for French Peoria (Emerson and F. Mansberger). In French Colonial Archaeology: The Illinois Country, edited by J. Walthall, pp. 149-164. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.
1991 Some perspectives on Cahokia and the northern Mississippian expansion. In Cahokia and the Hinterlands: Middle Mississippian Cultures of the Midwest edited by T. Emerson and R.B. Lewis, pp. 221-236. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.
1990 The socio-politics of the living and the dead: the treatment of historic and prehistoric human remains in contemporary Midwest America (T. Emerson and P. Cross). Death Studies 14(6):543-564.
1989 Water, Serpents, and the Underworld: An Exploration into Cahokian Symbolism. In The Southeastern Ceremonial Complex: Artifacts and Analysis, edited by P. Galloway, pp. 45-92. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
1986 Early Woodland cultural variation, subsistence, and settlement in the American Bottom (With A. Fortier). In Early Woodland Archeology, edited by K. Farnsworth and T. Emerson, pp. 475-522. Center for American Archeology Press, Kampsville.
1983 A Settlement-Subsistence Model of the Terminal Late Archaic adaptation in the American Bottom, Illinois (Emerson and D. McElrath). In Archaic Hunters and Gatherers in the American Midwest, edited by J. Phillips and J. Brown, pp. 219-242. Academic Press, New York.
1978 A new method for calculating the live weight of the northern white-tailed deer from osteoarchaeological material. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 3(1): 35-44.
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