Together with colleagues from the Center for American Archeology (CAA), I investigate how changing cultural landscapes can help us to understand the processes of initial settlement and community formation in the Lower Illinois Valley during the Middle Woodland Period (ca. 2200 – 1550 BP). We are reconstructing settlement processes and the emergence of sociopolitical complexity as reflected in inter-site variability in the internal structure of earthworks, mapped using near-surface geophysics. This evidence will be combined with regional ceramic and bioarchaeological data to test models of community formation and development during the Middle Woodland Period. Our first results are published in a special issue of Advances in Archaeological Practice.