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Anker Site
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Location on the Little Calumet River near Chicago, Illinois
Area 4.5 acres

The Anker Site (11Ck-21) is located on the Little Calumet River near Chicago, Illinois. It is classified as a late Prehistoric site with Upper Mississippian Huber (aka Blue Island) affiliation.

History of Archaeological Investigations

In 1958 prehistoric remains were uncovered during construction of a subdivision in suburban Chicago. A salvage operation was undertaken under the auspices of the Illinois Archaeological Survey, along with several individuals who excavated some of the burials and features on their own and shared their findings with the Survey.

Huber (aka Blue Island) within the Upper Mississippian Culture

Huber ware (and Huber culture) are often mentioned together with Fisher. Both Fisher and Huber are Upper Mississippian cultures which existed in the southern Lake Michigan region in the states of northern Illinois and Indiana and southwest Michigan. Both have shell-tempered pottery but Huber is predominantly plain surface with fine-line decoration and Fisher is predominantly cordmarked surface with wide-line decoration.

The relationship of Huber and Fisher both with each other and with other Upper Mississippian cultures in the area has long been a matter of debate and speculation among archaeologists. James Griffin, upon examining the artifacts from the original 1929 excavations at the Huber site, felt that Huber was a Component of the Oneota Aspect based on the form and design of the pottery, close to the Orr and Lake Winnebago foci, and that Fisher was part of a separate Focus. Since that date, we’ve obtained a great deal more information and now we know that Fisher is the older of the two and Huber is the one that survived to the Historic period, based on the association of Huber pottery with early Historic European trade goods at several sites.

Nevertheless, both Fisher and Huber coexist at the same sites seemingly at the same time. Hoxie Farm, Griesmer and Moccasin Bluff are examples of this.

Most archaeologists now believe that both Fisher and Huber are taxonomically-related phases within the Oneota tradition. The relationship between the two is time-related in that Huber is derived from Fisher; but there are also late Fisher sites like Fifield, where Fisher pottery is associated with late Prehistoric artifacts, so it is possible that Fisher also survived until the Protohistoric or early Historic period.

The Anker site is unique among Huber sites in the amount of trade goods and ceremonial/religious items present. The site may have been a ceremonial or trade center; or there may have been a migration of peoples coming from the lower portion of the Mississippi River to interact with the Huber Culture population and perhaps settle in the area.


The Anker site is a site belonging to the Huber tradition (aka Blue Island) and is considered to be closely related to the Oneota Orr Focus. The site is unique among Huber sites in the large amount of trade goods, mostly from the lower Mississippi River area but also from northern Michigan and the Iroquoian area of Ontario and New York State. This could mean either extensive trade networks or movements of people.

The structure present at Anker is larger than other Huber period houses noted at the Oak Forest site and therefore may be a ceremonial structure. The fact that a dog skull was placed in one of the pits supports that possibility. Also, many of the grave goods may be interpreted as parts of medicine bundles or otherwise have spiritual or religious implications. The presence of the gorget with "weeping eye" motif and the trade vessels from the Middle Mississippian area suggest that the Anker residents participated in or at least had knowledge of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.

Based on the animal bone found at the site, and the presence of scapula hoes, it is thought that the site was occupied at least during the summer months. It may have functioned as a religious/ceremonial center in the settlement pattern of the Huber culture, while other sites such as Oak Forest served as semi-permanent residential areas.

There are no radiocarbon dates available for the site, but based on the artifacts present, the researchers believe the site was occupied from approximately A.D. 1400 to 1500. The specific Native American tribe represented by the remains is unknown; however, Miami, Illinois or a Chewere Sioux group are possibilities.

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