Get 'Bitten by the Archaeology Bug' at Historical Museum

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 31, 2013 | Go to article overview

Get 'Bitten by the Archaeology Bug' at Historical Museum


Byline: Submitted by Kurt Begalka, McHenry County Historical Society

In "Archeological How-tos" at 3 p.m. Monday, April 1, part of McHenry County Historical Society's Sampler Series, Rochelle Lurie will share stories about many of her excavations and the processes she follows to accurately document artifacts and their location. She says she never anticipated she'd be digging up the past in order to make a living today, but that is what she has been doing.

The owner and president of Midwest Archeological Research Services in Marengo, Lurie said her team has logged and preserved nearly 1,700 prehistoric and historic sites in the region since 1986.

"There are lots of different ways to skin a cat, even an archeological cat," Lurie said. "The idea is how do you do what you want to do and make a living doing it."

Lurie admitted she was late to party. The Chicago native, who now lives in Harvard, majored in zoology and history of religion at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Only later, at age 35, was she "bitten by the archaeology bug" following history classes at Roosevelt University in Chicago and a visit to the Koster Native American excavation in downstate Greene County.

"People tend to think of early people as being primitive and that they did not really understand the environment they were living in," Lurie said. "But that is absolutely incorrect. They had to understand where they were living and how to care for the resources they used. Those are good lessons for us as we interact with the environment today."

Not only did Lurie participate in a weeklong archeological field school run by Northwestern University in 1974, she returned to the Evanston campus and earned a doctorate in anthropology in 1982. She is a past president of the Illinois Archaeological Survey and is on board of several Illinois Association for Advancement of Archaeology chapters.

"I find that doing archaeology through a business can be very rewarding," Lurie said. "Most of the projects that we have are generated by the fact that people want an archeological survey. We've been excavating the same (forest preserve) site in Winnebago County for almost 20 years."

In July, Lurie will teach classes at a field school -- in partnership with William Rainey Harper, Elgin Community and McHenry County colleges -- at the Macktown National Historic Site along the Rock River south of Rockton. …

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