2017 Distinguished Career Award: Kenneth Farnsworth

2017 Distinguished Career Award Recipient Kenneth Farnsworth

     As an undergraduate at Northwestern University in the mid-1960s, switching from engineering to archaeology was one of the best decisions I ever made.  The N.U. archaeology program was Illinois-Valley focused: an easy-to-reach research universe with a 12,000-year occupation history and a dizzying array of fascinating research questions available for study.  My first excavation was at the Middle Woodland Macoupin site, and ever since that first field season I have been fascinated by questions about the subsistence patterns, belief systems, and long-distance interactions of Hopewellian people living in the Illinois Valley drainage 2,000 years ago.  I have been fortunate enough to be able to continue to document and interpret Early Woodland, Middle Woodland, and Late Woodland settlements, mortuary sites, and ritual staging areas, for 50 seasons now with occasional side trips into excavating a deeply stratified Archaic site, assembling unpublished regional pioneer-archaeology studies, and becoming involved in the strange new world of contract archaeology.  I can’t imagine there ever being an end to exciting new prehistoric research projects in the Illinois Valley region.

    But I couldn’t have successfully pursued any of this work without the patience and extraordinary help of many dedicated field crews, and the brain-storming sessions, shared ideas, and shared data of countless friends, research colleagues, co-authors, and reviewers.  It’s been a blast – and it’s still a blast.  Thank you all for helping make archaeological research so exhilarating and rewarding.  I’m deeply moved to be honored by my peers with this award.

-Kenneth Farnsworth