Cahokia’s Western Frontier: Consolidation and Collapse as viewed from the Big River Valley, Missouri

Author(s): Gregory Wilson; Christina Friberg

Year: 2015


Cahokia was the largest and most complex pre-Columbian Native American society in North America. Its cultural influence extended throughout the Mississippian period Midwest (A.D. 1050–1400). A diachronic investigation of greater Cahokia from its western periphery provides insight into the polity’s consolidation, fragmentation, and collapse. Cahokian groups appear to have annexed portions of the Big River Valley (BRV) in southeast Missouri as part of the polity’s formational Big Bang. However, by A.D. 1200, the population of Cahokia and the surrounding American Bottom region had significantly declined and Cahokia’s pan-regional influence had markedly diminished. At this time, the BRV witnessed a major increase in Mississippian occupation. A detailed examination of these patterns provides insight into Cahokia’s long-term developmental trajectory. This is accomplished through (1) a diachronic settlement pattern analysis of the BRV; and (2) a more focused analysis of the Long site mound center (23Je9), including a gradiometer survey and an analysis of architecture and ceramics from Robert McCormick Adams' 1941 excavations at the site.

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Cahokia’s Western Frontier: Consolidation and Collapse as viewed from the Big River Valley, Missouri. Christina Friberg, Gregory Wilson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397391)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;