Building Below the Surface: Earth Moving and Caching at Cahokia’s CABB Tract

Author(s): Melissa Baltus; Sarah Baires

Year: 2017


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 includes an additional, previously unidentified borrow pit. Using evidence resulting from our limited excavations and geomorphology cores, we examine how Cahokians engaged with the natural and the supernatural through earth-moving activities while contributing to the construction of the urban landscape. We explore the ‘doings’ (after Fowles 2013) of building and shaping the landscape through the borrowing of earth, creation of low spaces, and layering of soils and special materials as a means of engaging with and relating to other social agents. Additionally, we consider practices of re-excavation into special buildings and deposits of pottery in borrow pits and buildings in this area of Cahokia to demonstrate the ways in which the supernatural intersects with daily life.

Cite this Record

Building Below the Surface: Earth Moving and Caching at Cahokia’s CABB Tract. Melissa Baltus, Sarah Baires. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431564)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15542