The archaeological record of the Chicago area is the story of human life over the last 12,000 years. Over that time period, the landscape has changed considerably – from glacial tundra, to woodland, to prairie. The archaeological record reflects people’s interaction with, and use of, the different landscapes over time. Local environment influences site location and site function, and humans influence the landscape too. How do archaeologists reconstruct past landscapes and past environments; and how does this help us explain where people were living and why? This presentation will describe how archaeologists reconstruct the past environment and how they study site location to understand the complex interaction of humans and their surroundings through time.