Redefining Cahokia: City of the Cosmos

Author(s): John Kelly; James Brown

Year: 2017


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 related to its creation by the Mississippi river and its tributaries. At this point Cahokia is composed of at least 110 earthen mounds and other visible architecture and modification of the natural landscape within an area of about 13 sq km that has been altered to varying degrees over a period of over centuries. As Eastern North America’s initial urban center, this presentation focuses on the nature of its definition from a landscape perspective and as an American Indian cosmogram and in the end the manner in which it has changed as it defies our attempts to define this unique place we now call Cahokia.

Cite this Record

Redefining Cahokia: City of the Cosmos. John Kelly, James Brown. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431563)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15126