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Piece of Indian Pottery Found in Illinois Creates a Mystery

A piece of Native American Oneota pottery discovered on a sandbar on the Sangamon River in Illinois has archaeologists wondering how it got there.
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When Scott Hewitt, who guides canoe and kayak trips on the Sangamon River, discovered the piece of American Indian pottery he thought it was just a piece of rock, reported The State Journal Register.

The fragment of pottery was found on a sandbar in a bend of the river between Springfield and Petersburg, Illinois.

“I really thought it was a cobble,” he told the newspaper. “There was (only a small portion) of it showing, and I thought, ‘What is that rock doing on my sandbar?’”

Michael Wiant, director of the Dickson Mounds Museum, told The State Journal Register, that the pottery was made by the Oneota people and is a significant find.

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The Illinois State Museum website says Oneota people arrived in the central Illinois river valley around 700 years ago.

“The Oneota culture is something we know arrives in Illinois circa 1300,” Wiant told The State Journal Register. “We’ve known about four or five sites on the Illinois River and had a hint there was one on Salt Creek.”

However, he continued, “Both this find and the Salt Creek find are well out of the range where we expected to find this material.” Salt Creek is a major tributary to the Sangamon River.

The two looked for other artifacts around the sandbar, but came up empty handed. They both wonder how it came to rest on the sandbar and are curious if it was found elsewhere and placed where Hewitt found it.

He will donate the item to the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown, Illinois.