New Insights into Mississippian Culture at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Past and ongoing research at Cahokia, its satellites and outliers, has produced a plethora of information, old and new, which contributes to a better understanding of how this site was planned, organized, occupied, and evolved over several centuries. Current research also demonstrates how Cahokia related to and interacted with neighboring and distant sites, and how it reflected the cosmology of the Mississippian cultural tradition. This symposium will summarize the findings of current research in the greater Cahokia area, including the expansion of previous excavations, evidence copper technology, the relationship of Cahokia to its outlying communities, new insights on community planning from geophysical tests, the astronomy and geometry of the site, and the internal reorganization and development of Cahokia proper.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-16 of 16)

  • Documents (16)

  • Building Below the Surface: Earth Moving and Caching at Cahokia’s CABB Tract (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Melissa Baltus. Sarah Baires.

    Human engagement with the world includes forging and maintaining relationships with social agents, both visible and invisible. Among Native North Americans, these relationships are simultaneously religious, social, and political. We explore these relationships using data from our 2016 excavations at Cahokia’s CABB (Courtyard Area Between Borrows) Tract, located southeast of Woodhenge and west of the Grand Plaza. The CABB Tract is situated north of two known borrow pits (Fowler’s 5-5 and 5-6) and...

  • Building the Wall: Excavations of Cahokia's East Palisade (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rachel Campbell.

    The East Palisade Project at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is an ongoing investigation with the main goal of fully determining the path of the multiple construction phases of the palisade walls surrounding the core of the site. Located in Ramey Field, just east of Monks Mound, excavations have occurred intermittently in this area since the 1960s. The study of the area has helped in the understanding of the construction of the palisade walls as well as the varying types of bastions used...

  • Cahokia's Mound 34 and the Moorehead Moment (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Corin Pursell. J. Grant Stauffer.

    Cahokia’s Mound 34 was an essential component of the dramatic reorganization of the eastern portion of Cahokia’s site core at the turn of the 13th century. Since the 1990s the Mound 34 Project has included examination of a copper workshop, the exploration of a complex mound construction history, and extended study of Mound 34’s special role in the production and exchange of Southeastern Ceremonial Complex art. The construction of this mound and a series of other low platforms adjacent to the...

  • Cahokia: City at the Center of the Mississippian Cosmos (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William Romain.

    Cahokia stands as the flagship city of the ancient Mississippian world. One of the enduring mysteries concerning Cahokia has been how to account for its skewed orientation and unique layout of its mounds and plazas. What accounts for the site's orientation east of north; and why are the mounds situated where they are? In this presentation I use recently obtained LiDAR imagery together with archaeoastronomic analyses to explore the idea that Cahokia was built according to a grand master plan....

  • The Changing Use of Space in Cahokia’s Urban Epicenter: Archaeological Investigations on the Merrell Tract (2011-2016) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Immacolata Valese. Davide Domenici.

    The paper summarizes the results of six field seasons since 2011 by a joint Italian/American archaeological project on the Merrell Tract 300 meters west of Monks Mound. The extensive excavations, expanding upon the area of Wittry’s 1960 salvage work on Tract 15B, revealed a complex sequence of occupations covering the entire sequence of Cahokia’s history spanning the Edelhardt through Sand Prairie phases. Throughout its history the Merrell Tract experienced important changes: first as a domestic...

  • A Concealed Landscape: New Evidence from the North Plaza (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Caitlin Rankin.

    Recent soil coring and reexamination of mound height changes through time have revealed an extremely high historic sedimentation rate of 5.2 cm per year in the North Plaza, resulting in deep burial (around four meters) of the Mississippian landscape. Modernly, the North Plaza is noticeably lower than other plazas surrounding Monks Mounds; however, the North Plaza would have been a dramatic topographic feature during Mississippian occupation. The discovery of landscape six meters lower than the...

  • Greeting the Dawn: Investigations of Cahokia's East Plaza (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Stauffer.

    This paper provides an investigation of Cahokia’s East plaza and its associated architectural remains. Defined here as the area bounded by Mounds 31, 36, 38 (Monk’s Mound), and 51, the plaza was initially distinguished by an absence of surface debris, noted during controlled surface collection efforts in the Ramey Tract by Elizabeth D. Benchley and Barbara J. Vander Leest. Based largely on ceramics that were acquired by these investigators, the proposed time of construction has been placed...

  • Ground truthing Cahokia's Feature X anomaly (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ken Williams. John Kelly.

    A huge resistivity anomaly discovered several hundred meters NE of Monks Mound was subjected to coring and test excavations in 2012. This testing revealed a series of major prehistoric landscape uses/modifications through time, some quite unexpected. The prehistoric sequence of events at this location, though still in need of further clarification, appear to infer significant shifts in communal priorities through time.

  • Mapping Residential and Public Space in Cahokia’s Merrell Tract: Results of Recent Magnetic Surveys (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jarrod Burks.

    The Merrell Tract is located west of Monk’s Mound and just outside downtown Cahokia. It is well known for excavations of the famous Woodhenge at its west end and a large residential district at the east end. However, very little is known about what lies between. In 2012 and 2013, with logistical funding from the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society and the Illinois Association for Advancement of Archaeology, a large-area magnetic survey was undertaken to determine the density and extent of the area’s...

  • The Mitchell Site: An Upgrade (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donald Booth.

    In the Spring of 2015, SCI Engineering, Inc. was contracted to conduct archaeological investigations ahead of the expansion of the Cedar Creek Lumberyard situated in the northeast portion of the Mitchell site (11MS30) in Madison County, Illinois. These investigations resulted in the delineation of multiple wall trench structures of varying size and shape. Most of what is known of this important Mississippian mound center comes from James W. Porter’s dissertation on his 1960s salvage excavations...

  • Monks Mound: Retrospective Thoughts and Prospective Potentials (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timothy Schilling.

    Monks Mound stands as the pinnacle of platform mound building at Cahokia and in North America. Built very rapidly near the end of the 11th century AD, it was the largest single public works project undertaken in North America until the 19th century. At first glance, the mound appears as an immutable fixture on the landscape yet a closer examination shows that the mound has several severe structural deficiencies that may eventually lead to collapse. Archaeologists and site managers have long...

  • New Views of Cahokia's Urban Landscape: Multi-Instrument Geophysical Survey at the Ramey Field (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timothy Horsley. Casey Barrier. Robin Beck. John Kelly.

    In this paper we report on new collaborative research that seeks to investigate the history of pre-Columbian urbanism and Mississippian culture in the greater American Bottom region of eastern North America. Our research is being designed to take advantage of a wide range of archaeological methods, technologies, and analyses to produce information for Cahokia and other sites in the region. Here, we present initial results from our first season of work at Cahokia. In July 2016, project members...

  • Pottery and Religion at Greater Cahokia’s Emerald Acropolis (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rebecca Barzilai. Susan M. Alt. Timothy R. Pauketat.

    Since 2012, large-scale survey and excavations at and around the Emerald site east of Cahokia have investigated the religious foundations of the rise of that American Indian city. Emerald was a shrine complex, where religion was performed by Cahokians and pilgrims beginning around AD 1000. Excavations have revealed dense stands of non-domestic, ceremonial and public architecture alongside seemingly temporary, short-term housing. A prominent aspect of the rituality of the place was the use of...

  • Quantifying Variation in Ramey Incised Motifs: A Stylistic Evaluation of Cahokian Authority Across the American Bottom (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Madelaine Azar.

    Ramey Incised jars, often considered to be indicative of Cahokia’s twelfth-century Stirling Phase fluorescence, are characterized by angular shoulders, polished exteriors, and incised symbolic motifs arranged around the vessel orifice. Thought to be for ritual or symbolic use, the ceramic type is not only present at Cahokia, but ubiquitous across sites in the American Bottom. However, the process through which these vessels were manufactured and then disseminated is still not fully understood....

  • Redefining Cahokia: City of the Cosmos (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Kelly. James Brown.

    By the early 19th century the group of mounds we now recognize as Cahokia mounds was called the Cantine mound, with Monks Mound referred to as the "Great Cahokia" mound. Actual boundaries for the site were not established until the 1950s. For the inhabitants, the site was probably without bounds and our definition of Cahokia is to a large extent fulfills our society needs that relate to legal aspects of ownership and historical significance. The natural landscape is a palimpsest of features...

  • The Spatial Analysis of Debris from the Mound 34 Copper Workshop (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emily Coco.

    During the 2007-2009 excavations at Mound 34, Washington University students and Museum Society volunteers piece plotted each individual artifact associated with the copper workshop at this mound. This information allowed for an in-depth macroscopic analysis of the debris associated with this activity area. This analysis focused on the spatial analysis of the copper and other debris within the workshop. Distribution maps of the debris were created to determine the relationships between the...