Mary Simon

Michigan State University Campus Visit

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Mary Simon has BA and MA degrees in Anthropology and a MS in Plant Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As the Chief Archaeobotanist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Simon directs the Archaeobotanical Research Laboratory. She will be visiting MSU and offering a public talk on the Thursday, the 26th and a graduate student workshop on the 27th.

Dr. Mary Simon

Illinois State Archaeological Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

Mary Simon has BA and MA degrees in Anthropology and a MS in Plant Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As the Chief Archaeobotanist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Simon directs the Archaeobotanical Research Laboratory. Her research interests include use of plants for technological and social purposes, including prehistoric textile manufacture, construction technologies and ritual plant use. She has also studied histories of maize and squash use in the mid-continent and is currently collaborating in a research project focusing on the role of maize in the development of the Mississippian Period polity expressed at the major site of Cakokia in the American Bottom of Illinois. She has developed and supervised independent studies for students interested in paleoethnobotany at the University of Illinois. Simo has published numerous  peer-reviewed articles and chapters and has contributed archaeobotanical portions to over two dozen published research volumes.

The Public Talk

Thursday, October 26th – 6:30pm
Location: Psychology Building 118

New Perspectives on the History of Maize in the Interior Midwest

At one time, maize histories in the interior Midwestern United States were thought to begin at about 100 B.C. and to increase gradually through time. Recent research by archaeologists at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey working in the American Bottom and western Illinois regions has invalidated that model. We now know that, in this part of the Midwest, subsistence-level maize cultivation was initiated abruptly at about A.D 900 and increased rapidly over the following centuries. Further, newly introduced practices of maize cultivation and processing were important in facilitating the societal reorganization that culminated in the rapid development of the vast and complex, Mississippian Period Cahokian polity at about AD 1050. This presentation outlines the ongoing archaeobotanical, archaeological and isotopic research that supports this new model. We contend that maize should not only be recognized as having had a key role in providing subsistence security but also that it was also adopted into existing ritual by Mississippian groups who did who did not view ritual and subsistence as separate, unrelated systems.

The Graduate Student Workshop

Thursday, October 26th – 10:00am to 12:00pm
McDonel Hall, room C103

On Thursday October 26th, Mary Simon, Senior Archaeobotanist for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey will give a workshop on the collection and care of macro plant remains from archaeological sites. This is an opportunity to learn protocols for collecting, processing, and sampling archaeological macrobotanicals from someone with decades of experience working with these remains. Simon will also discuss the importance of these data sets and provide hands-on identification opportunities.

Students must RSVP at occon120@msu.edu by Monday October 23. Space is limited.

Time/Location:  10-12 with lunch to follow in McDonel C103

Sponsors

Sponsored by the Alumni and Friends Expendable Fund for Archaeology with co-sponsorship from: Department of Geography, the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences.