You are standing at the site of a small prehistoric camp which was inhabited during the Woodland time period (ca. 150 B.C.) and again during the Mississippian time period (ca. 1000-1200 A.D.). Four or five hundred feet to the east of you is Dickson Mounds Museum, and to the northeast is the museum's picnic shelter.
Bones and bits of pottery turned up by plowing in the 1920s when this land was under cultivation led local collectors to dig pits, where it was reported they found human and animal bones and pottery resembling that which was found in the Dickson burial mounds. Archaeological excavations undertaken in1932 by a field crew from the University of Chicago unearthed the evidence of a semi-subterranean house, broken pottery, animal bones, clam shells, and tools. The site was excavated three more times between 1961 and 1965, revealing a variety of ceramics; stone, bone, and shell objects; a human burial; and a dog burial.
During the Woodland period, the Dickson Camp site was used as a late summer/early fall base camp at which a variety of activities were performed, including hide working. Archaeological evidence shows that deer, fish, and hazelnuts were an important part of the inhabitants' diet, as were seeds of plants such as goosefoot, sumpweed, lambsquarters, and sunflower. Scientists who studied the site were intrigued by the presence of tools composed of stone not found in this area of Illinois, affirming their belief that the Woodland inhabitants had trade networks with people of other regions.