MAR 7, 2019 8:15 AM
MONROE COUNTY, Ill. – It isn’t often that you get a sunny, 70-degree day in the beginning of February, especially less than a week after a record-setting cold snap plunged most of Illinois into subzero temperatures. We certainly aren’t about to waste the fine weather, even if it means a day lugging heavy equipment up a steep ravine in the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.
A local landowner leads our team of archaeologists past a small waterfall up to the top of the bluff, where two rock shelters contain a number of ancient petroglyphs. These designs were pecked and ground into limestone boulders sometime between A.D. 1050-1400, during what archaeologists call the Mississippian Period. This era saw the founding of the American Indian city of Cahokia, some 30 miles north of here.
Luckily, our guide has tied a series of ropes between trees to help us haul our gear, and ourselves, up the steep, slick slope.