This week, I read an article about pre-European monument sites in Michigan. Initially I was drawn to this article because of the location of the monuments; our home state. It is not often that I think of archaeological sites existing here in Michigan, but this article has once again opened my eyes to a reoccurring theme in this class; archaeology is something that is going on all around us, everywhere. From the ancient structures in Teotihuacan to our own backyards here in East Lansing, there is something to be learned about the people that once inhabited these areas. The extensive study of the monuments in Michigan has led archaeologists to make multiple conclusions. Firstly, it is thought that burial mounds were used to serve local needs like food, shelter, and community. And secondly, circular earthwork enclosures are thought to have been used as shared ritual spaces.
Possibly the most fascinating thing about this article, however, is the fact that the monuments that it speaks of no longer even exist! Many of these monuments have been lost forever to modern development, however archaeologists were able to use a modeling technique called Maximum Entropy to study the uses of these monuments. Once again I find myself amazed by the methods that archaeologists are able to use to make detailed conclusions with so little to go on.