Migration, Population Change, and Climate at Cahokia


This is an abstract from the "Migration and Climate Change: The Spread of Mississippian Culture" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In this paper we explore sociopolitical, economic, and climatological aspects of the population history of Cahokia and compare these with the timing of the appearance of Cahokia materials at hinterland sites to better understand some of the factors that may have contributed to the migration of people out of the American Bottom. Paleoenvironmental proxies from two sediment cores from Horseshoe Lake, Illinois, are integrated with fecal stanol data from the same cores to investigate the relationships among environmental events, climate change, and population size for Cahokia and the Horseshoe Lake watershed between ca. AD 800 and 1600. A radiocarbon age model developed for one core shows close correspondence between archaeologically derived models of the population trajectory for Cahokia and the fecal stanol data, while the paleoenvironmental proxies and stanol data show a significant decrease in population within the Horseshoe Lake watershed after a major flood event and after the onset of decreased summer rainfall ca. AD 1150. Based on the timing of the appearance of Cahokian ceramics at sites across the Midwest, migration out of Cahokia predates these climatic changes, and population decline at the site accelerates after the flood and onset of decreased summer rainfall.

Cite this Record

Migration, Population Change, and Climate at Cahokia. Sissel Schroeder, A. J. White, Lora Stevens, Samuel Munoz, Varenka Lorenzi. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451018)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22841