It's hard to believe, but 11,000 years ago our state was overrun
by giant, elephant-like, wooly mammals with 5-foot-long tusks.
Closer to present day but still in the relatively distant past,
Illinois was the site of an ancient Native American city, Cahokia,
where a series of visible mounds and even a so-called "Woodhenge"
(a circle of posts used to make astronomical sightings) have
revealed a sophisticated yet mysterious society that was larger
than London in 1250 AD.
Grab your young Indiana Jones and head off to discover the
amazing early history of Illinois.
Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, Field
Travel back to the Ice Age and meet 40,000-year-old Lyuba, an
intact baby mammoth. Your little explorers will get up close and
personal with saber-toothed cats and giant bears, and see first
hand some of the oldest human artifacts in existence. Hands-on,
exciting interactive displays show how today's scientists excavate,
analyze and learn more about these giant creatures from the distant
Cahokia Mounds State Historic and UNESCO World Heritage
Located on the Mississippi River flood plain, across from St.
Louis, the Cahokia Mounds site was first inhabited by Indians of
the Woodland culture in about 700 A.D. Though time, neglect and our
famous blustery weather conditions have erased much of this once
bustling city, Cahokia Mounds offers a world-class interpretive
center. The museum's exhibits, orientation video, guided tours,
trails and the 100-foot-high Monks Mound, the largest earthwork in
North America, will leave you with a good idea of what life looked
like here long ago. cahokiamounds.org.
Family Archeology Day 2010, Kampsville
Archeology Day, set for 10 a.m.-4 p.m., June 26, allows young
archeologists and their parents to explore the prehistory of the
lower Illinois River valley region. Put on by the Center for
American Archeology, the day offers a variety of archeology-related
activities, including a flintknapping demonstration and artifact
identification workshop, as well as tour a 2,000-year-old
excavation site. Exhibits by area archeological and historical
societies will be on display and a kids' area will have hands-on
activities. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. caa-archeology.org.
The Perry Mastodon at Wheaton College
When my son was a toddler, one of his favorite things to do was to
stop into this hidden corner of Wheaton College, push the large
button and watch this 16-foot-long, 9-foot-tall American Mastodon
revolve around its platform. The Perry Mastodon was discovered in
Glen Ellyn in the 1960s. It's a small exhibit, but kids will be
fascinated with pushing the button and bringing this incredibly big
Mastodon back to life. wheaton.edu.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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