Native American Cahokia Mounds Near St Louis
  
 
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 Description: Cahokia was the largest and most influential urban settlement in 
the Mississippian culture which developed advanced societies across much of 
what is now the central and southeastern United States, beginning more than 500 
years before European contact.  Cahokia was the largest urban center north of 
the great Mesoamerican cities in Mexico. 
 

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 Location: Cahokia is located on the site of a pre-Columbian Native American 
city (c. 600–1400 CE) situated directly across the Mississippi River from 
modern St. Louis, Missouri. The existing park covers about 3.5 square miles, 
and contains about 80 mounds, but the ancient city was actually much larger.  
At its peak, Cahokia covered about six square miles and included about 120 
human-made earthen mounds in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions.
  
 
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  Population:  Cahokia's population at its peak in the 1200s would not be 
surpassed by any city in the United States until the late 18th century.  
Although it was home to only about 1,000 people before c. 1050, its population 
grew explosively after that date. Archaeologists estimate the city's population 
at between 6,000 and 40,000 at its peak, with more people living in outlying 
farming villages that supplied the main urban center. If the highest population 
estimates are correct, Cahokia was larger than any subsequent city in the 
United States until the 1780s, when Philadelphia's population grew beyond 
40,000.
 

 Age: Although there is some evidence of Late Archaic period (approximately 
1200 BCE) occupation in and around the site,[6] Cahokia as it is now defined 
was settled around 1200 CE during the Late Woodland period. 
  
 Metallurgy: 1950s by archaeologist Greg Perino found the only known copper 
workshop to be found at a Mississippian site. The area contains the remains of 
three tree stumps thought to have been used to hold anvil stones. Analysis of 
copper found during excavations showed that it had been annealed, a technique 
involving repeatedly heating and cooling the metal as it is worked, such as 
blacksmiths do with iron.
 

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 Engineering: Excavation on the top of Monks Mound has revealed evidence of a 
large building, likely a temple or the residence of the paramount chief, which 
would have been seen throughout the city. This building was about 105 ft (32 m) 
long and 48 feet (15 m) wide, and could have been as much as 50 ft (15 m) high. 
It was about 5,000 sq ft (460 m2).
 A large plaza located adjacent to Monks Mound was a place where games and 
public rituals took place. 
 In one of the earliest large-scale construction projects, the site had been 
expertly and deliberately leveled and filled by the city's inhabitants. It is 
part of the sophisticated engineering displayed throughout the site. The Grand 
Plaza covered roughly 50 acres (20 ha) and measured over 1,600 ft (490 m) in 
length by over 900 ft (270 m) in width. Along with the Grand Plaza to the 
south, three other very large plazas surround Monks Mound in the cardinal 
directions to the east, west, and north. The high-status district of Cahokia 
was surrounded by a long palisade that was equipped with protective bastions. 
Where the palisade passed, it separated neighborhoods.  Beyond Monks Mound, as 
many as 120 more mounds stood at varying distances from the city center. To 
date, 109 mounds have been located, 68 of which are in the park area. The 
mounds are divided into several different types: platform, conical, ridge-top, 
etc.. Each appeared to have had its own meaning and function. In general terms, 
the city center seems to have been laid out in a diamond-shaped pattern 
approximately 1 mi (1.6 km) from end to end, while the entire city is 5 mi (8.0 
km) across from east to west.
  
 

 
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 Trade Center: Cahokia became the most important center for the peoples known 
today as Mississippians. Their settlements ranged across what is now the 
Midwest, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. Cahokia was located in a 
strategic position near the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri andIllinois 
rivers. It maintained trade links with communities as far away as the Great 
Lakes to the north and the Gulf Coast to the south, trading in such exotic 
items as copper, Mill Creek chert, and whelk shells.  Mill Creek chert, most 
notably, was used in the production of hoes, a high demand tool for farmers 
around Cahokia and other Mississippian centers. Cahokia's control of the 
manufacture and distribution of these hand tools was an important economic 
activity that allowed the city to thrive. Mississippian culture pottery and 
stone tools in the Cahokian style were found at the Silvernale site near Red 
Wing, Minnesota, and materials and trade goods from Pennsylvania, the Gulf 
Coast and Lake Superior have been excavated at Cahokia.
  
 

 Astronomy: Archaeologists discovered postholes during excavation of the site 
to the west of Monks Mound, revealing a timber circle. Noting that the 
placement of posts marked solstices and equinoxes, they referred to it as "an 
American Woodhenge", likening it to England's well-known circles at Woodhenge 
and Stonehenge. Detailed analytical work supports the hypothesis that the 
placement of these posts was by design. "A beaker[36] found in a pit near the 
winter solstice post bore a circle and cross symbol that for many Native 
Americans symbolizes the Earth and the four cardinal directions. Radiating 
lines probably symbolized the sun, as they have in countless other 
civilizations." The woodhenges were significant to the timing of the 
agricultural cycle.
  
 
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 Art: Artisans worked here to produce religious items, such as long-nosed god 
maskettes, ceremonial earrings with a symbolic shape, thought to have been used 
in fictive kinship rituals.[27][28] Many of the stylistically related 
Mississippian copper plates such as the Wulfing cache from southeastern 
Missouri, some of the Etowah plates from Georgia, and many of the Spiro plates 
from Oklahoma are associated with the Greater Braden Style and are thought to 
have been made in Cahokia in the 13th century.  archaeologists found the 
remains of a man in his 40s who was probably an important Cahokian ruler. The 
man was buried on a bed of more than 20,000 marine-shell disc beads arranged in 
the shape of a falcon, with the bird's head appearing beneath and beside the 
man's head, and its wings and tail beneath his arms and legs. The falcon 
warrior or "birdman" is a common motif in Mississippian culture. In addition, a 
cache of sophisticated, finely worked arrowheads in a variety of different 
styles and materials was found near the grave of this important man. Separated 
into four types, each from a different geographical region, the arrowheads 
demonstrated Cahokia's extensive trade links in North America.
  
 Decline: One of the major problems that large centers like Cahokia faced was 
keeping a steady supply of food, and waste disposal was also an issue, which 
made Cahokia an unhealthy place. Because it was such an unhealthy place to 
live, the town had to rely on social and political attractions to bring in a 
steady supply of new immigrants; otherwise the town's death rate would have 
caused it to be abandoned earlier. Cahokia began to decline during the twelfth 
century. It was abandoned during the mid-thirteenth century. and the area 
around it was largely uninhabited by indigenous tribes. Scholars have proposed 
environmental factors, such as over-hunting and deforestation as explanations.
 The houses, stockade, and residential and industrial fires would have required 
the annual harvesting of thousands of logs. In addition, climate change could 
have aggravated effects of erosion due to deforestation, and adversely affected 
the cultivation of maize, on which the community had depended.  Another 
possible cause is invasion by outside peoples, though the only evidence of 
warfare found so far is the wooden stockade and watchtowers that enclosed 
Cahokia's main ceremonial precinct. Due to the lack of other evidence for 
warfare, the palisade appears to have been more for ritual or formal separation 
than for military purposes. Diseases transmitted among the large, dense urban 
population are another possible cause of decline. Many recent theories propose 
conquest-induced political collapse as the primary reason for Cahokia’s 
abandonment.
  
 Sources: Cahokia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahokia
 
 
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahokia 
 
 Cahokia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahokia Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site 
/kəˈhoʊkiə/ (11 MS 2)[2] is located on the site of a pre-Columbian Native 
American city (c. 600–1400 CE) situated directly acros...
 
 
 
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