image for Loebel, Thomas J

Loebel, Thomas J

Assistant Director
Section Head, Transportation Archaeology
Principle Scientific Senior Research Archaeologist

Address and Contact Information

209 Nuclear Physics Laboratory
M/C 571
23 E. Stadium Dr.
Champaign, IL  61820


Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Illinois-Chicago

Professional Affiliations

Register of Professional Archaeologists
Illinois Archaeological Survey (President Elect 2022-2023)
Illinois Archaeological Survey (Board of Directors 2004–2007, 2011–2013)
Wisconsin Archaeological Society (Board of Directors 2018-2020)
Midwest Archaeological Society
Plains Anthropological Society
Southeastern Archaeological Conference
Society for American Archaeology

Research Interests

Thomas Loebel specializes in the archaeology of the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene period of North America, with particular emphasis on the Midwest and western Great Lakes regions, although he has worked at sites or analyzed materials from various sites across the US. His technical specialties include the Organization of Lithic Technology, High-Power Microwear Analysis, Experimental Archaeology, Geophysical Survey, Cultural Resource Management, Underwater Archaeology, and Public Archaeology, Outreach and Education.

Current Projects

Illinois and Wisconsin Fluted Point Survey
This ongoing project to record fluted points (Clovis/Gainey and Folsom) in private and public collections is aimed at building a regional framework of site location, lithic raw material procurement, and land use patterns to examine large-scale patterns of social and economic adaptation. This project relies heavily on a collaborative approach with professional colleagues and the private community. Visit our page for Illinois and Wisconsin Fluted Point Survey on Facebook to learn more or report a find.

Carlisle Clovis Cache
Excavated from primary context in 1968, the Carlisle Cache represents one of only several contextually intact Clovis components in the Midcontinent. The cache is collection of utilitarian gear, including 25 bifaces and 12 large flakes made on Burlington chert, that was stockpiled to back future hunting, butchering, and hide processing activities in the central Des Moines River Valley. Though it was designed to satisfy the anticipated, task-specific needs of both men and women, the raison d’être for the cache’s contents was not executed. In preparing for extended forays away from prime tool stone sources, greater emphasis was placed on gearing up weaponry components than on butchery and hide-processing tools, in anticipation of a relatively higher rate of point turn-over due to damage or loss in hunting. While the bifaces could have served as a source of small flakes for expedient tools, they are far too small to have served efficiently as bifacial cores. Instead, bifaces and large flake-blanks were made from tabular cores at the tool stone source, with intentions of future conversion into weapon tips and a multitude of unifacial tools, respectively. This two-fold system of biface and flake production enabled Clovis foragers to prosper off-quarry no matter whether spoor steered them into mapped or unmapped areas. Technological and subsistence confidence was managed by performing early interval biface work at quarry sources, thereby decreasing the chances of off-quarry, late interval (point) manufacturing failures, and by regularly carrying substantial numbers of point and unifacial tool preforms. Such items were occasionally cached in areas where tool kits were prone to rapid depletion based on a history there of kill-butchery events, as well as at previously unvisited locations judged to have good potential for similar activities during anticipated future movements.

Endscraper microwear studies
This project combines the experimental replication and use of endscrapers to examine the function of these items within the early Paleoindian toolkit. Long argued to be either hide, wood, or bone working implements, the combined experimental program and examination of over 200 endscrapers from six major early Paleoindian sites (Hawk’s Nest, Mueller-Keck, Gainey, Nobles Pond, Shawnee-Minisink, and Shoop) across the eastern Woodlands is the first large scale functional study of this ubiquitous tool class, and indicates their primary function is the processing of fresh hide.



Selected Publications

2022 Thomas J. Loebel and Brad Koldehoff
A Cache of Pitkin Chert Dalton Points from Montgomery County, Illinois. Illinois Archaeology, 32:1-11.

2021 Thomas J. Loebel
Paleoenvironment, Physiography, and Huber Phase Settlement Patterning. In  Palos Village, An Early Seventeenth-Century Ancestral Ho-Chunk Occupation in the Chicago Area. ISAS Studies in Archaeology No. 14.

2018 Perri, Angela, Chris Widga, Dennis Lawler, Terrance Martin, Thomas Loebel, Kenneth Farnsworth, Luci Kohn, and Brent Buenger.                                                                                                                                                                             
New Evidence of the Earliest Domestic Dogs in the Americas. American Antiquity, V84(1):68-87.

2016 Loebel, Thomas J., John Lambert, and Matthew G. Hill.                                                                                          Synthesis of the Folsom-Midland Record in Illinois and Wisconsin. A solicited contribution to a special edited volume of PaleoAmerica, 2(2):135-149.

2014 Hill, M.G., T.J. Loebel, and D.W. May.
The Carlisle Clovis Cache from Central Iowa. In Clovis Caches, pp. 79–106. Edited by B. Huckell and D. Kilby. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

2013 Loebel, Thomas J.
Endscrapers, Use-wear and Early Paleoindians in Eastern North America. In The Eastern Fluted Point Tradition, pp. 315–330. Edited by Joseph A.M. Gingerich. University of Utah Press.

2013 Mark F. Seeman, Thomas J. Loebel, Aaron Comstock and Garry L. Summers
Working With Wilmsen: Paleoindian End Scraper Design And Use at Nobles Pond. American Antiquity 78(3):407–432.

2012 Loebel, Thomas J.
Pattern or Bias? A Critical Evaluation of Midwestern Fluted Point Distributions using Raster Based GIS. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(5):1205–1217.

2012 Loebel, Thomas J., and M.G. Hill.
The DeWulf Site: A Unique Late Paleoindian Site in Northwest Illinois. Illinois Antiquity 47(1):3–7.

2012 Loebel, Thomas J.
Piercers, Borers, and Perforators. The Manufacture of Cylinder Seals: Results of A High Powered Use-Wear Analysis of Select Chipped Stone Implements From The Field Museum of Natural History Kish Collection. In Where Kingship Descended from Heaven, edited by Karen L. Wilson and Deborah Bekken. Oriental Institution Press. (In Press).

2011 Matthew G. Hill, David Rapson, Thomas Loebel, and David May.
Site Structure and Activity Organization at a Late Paleoindian Base Camp in Western Nebraska. American Antiquity 76(4):752–772.

2011 Christopher J. Ellis, Dillon H. Carr, and Thomas J. Loebel
The Younger Dryas and Late Pleistocene Peoples of the Great Lakes Region. Quaternary International 242(2):534–545.

2010 Loebel, Thomas J. and Matthew G. Hill
The DeWulf Site (11Hy296): A New Late-Paleoindian Site in Northwest Illinois. Current Research in the Pleistocene 27:133–134.

2009 Loebel, Thomas J.
The Withington Site (47Gt158): A Clovis Campsite in Grant County, Wisconsin. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 34(2):223–248.

2009 Koldehoff, Brad and Thomas J. Loebel
Clovis and Dalton: Unbounded and Bounded Systems in the Midcontinent of North America. In Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, pp. 270–287. Edited by Brian Adams and Brooke Blades, Blackwell Publishing.

2008 M. G. Hill, David May, David Rapson, Thomas J. Loebel, James L. Theler
2007 Excavations at the OV Clary Site, Ash Hollow, Garden County, Nebraska. Current Research in the Pleistocene 25:40–42.

2007 Loebel, Thomas J. A Survey of Wisconsin Fluted Points. Current Research in the Pleistocene 24:118–119.

Additional Resources

LDAP Details for Loebel, Thomas J