Beginning around 500 BCE, people of the Woodland period in Illinois began making pottery vessels. Initially these pots had thick walls and were crudely made, but pottery-making improved over time. Another new aspect of their culture was burial of deceased members of the group in earthen mounds. Some individuals gained prestige or status by obtaining goods and materials from far away, such as obsidian from Wyoming, mica from the southern Appalachians, and large marine conch shells from the Gulf Coast. Their food came from the same combination of hunting, foraging for wild plant foods, and cultivating plants as during the Late Archaic period. Widespread, often wild speculation that these “Moundbuilders” were a vanished civilization not related to historically known Indians was laid to rest in 1894 by Cyrus Thomas, the first director of what is now the University Museum and brother-in-law to John A. Logan.