Monks Mound: Retrospective Thoughts and Prospective Potentials

Author(s): Timothy Schilling

Year: 2017


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 studied the mound to understand its internal structure and potential long-term solutions to the structural problems. Researchers have developed multiple theories about how and when the mound was built. The most recent work reveals that these problems are inherent in the materials and techniques used in construction. While the builders were intimately familiar with their materials, because of the scale of the construction, Monks Mound may be more susceptible to erosion and slumping than smaller earthen mounds. Recent work demonstrates that mound builders of Monks Mounds and other Mississippian sites successfully coped with and repaired problems during construction. More large-scale geoarchaeological studies are needed to both understand the mound and maintain it for future generations.

Cite this Record

Monks Mound: Retrospective Thoughts and Prospective Potentials. Timothy Schilling. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431555)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14950