Some sections of this work are incomplete but have been posted as is. They will be updated and queries resolved as time permits. Apart from files not yet complete, distribution maps, some figures and habitat photographs are the main items to be added. A question mark may appear in the text appended to items that need to be checked by me.
Development[ edit ] A map showing approximate areas of various Mississippian and related cultures. Cahokia is located near the center of this map in the upper part of the Middle Mississippi area.
Although some evidence exists of occupation during the Late Archaic period around BCE in and around the site,  Cahokia as it is now defined was settled around CE during the Late Woodland period.
Mound building at this location began with the emergent Mississippian cultural period, about the 9th century CE. The mounds were later named after the Cahokia tribea historic Illiniwek people living in the area when the first French explorers arrived in the 17th century.
As this was centuries after Cahokia was abandoned by its original inhabitants, the Cahokia tribe was not necessarily descended from the earlier Mississippian-era people. Most likely, multiple indigenous ethnic groups settled in the Cahokia Mounds area during the time of the city's apex.
This period appears to have fostered an agricultural revolution in upper North America, as the three-fold crops of maize, beans legumesand gourds squash were developed and adapted or bred to the temperate climates of the north from their origins in Mesoamerica.
Richter also notes that Cahokia's advanced development coincided with the development in the Southwest of the Chaco Canyon society, which also produced large-scale works in an apparent socially stratified society. The decline of the city coincides with the Little Ice Agealthough by then, the three-fold agriculture remained well-established throughout temperate North America.
Cahokia was located in a strategic position near the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouriand Illinois 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. Bartering, not money was used in trade.
Although it was home to only about 1, people before circaits population grew rapidly after that date. According to a study in Quaternary Science Reviews"Between AD andCahokia's population increased from between 1, and 2, people to between 10, and 15, people".
In the early 21st century, new residential areas were found to the west of Cahokia as a result of archeological excavations, increasing estimates of area population.
One of the major problems that large centers like Cahokia faced was keeping a steady supply of food. A related problem was waste disposal for the dense population, and Cahokia became unhealthy from polluted waterways.
Because it was such an unhealthy place to live, Snow believes that 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. Due to the lack of other evidence for warfare, the palisade may 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 theories since the late 20th century propose conquest-induced political collapse as the primary reason for Cahokia's abandonment. Analysis of sediment from beneath Horseshoe Lake has revealed that two major floods occurred in the period of settlement at Cahokia, in roughly — and — Monks Moundfor example, covers 14 acres 5.
Monks Mound An illustration of Monks Mound showing it with fanciful proportions Incised sandstone tablet of a Birdman found in during excavations into the east side of Monks Mound Monks Mound is the largest structure and central focus of the city: Excavation on the top of Monks Mound has revealed evidence of a large building, likely a temple or the residence of the paramount chiefwhich would have been seen throughout the city.
The east and northwest sides of Monks Mound were twice excavated in August during an attempt to avoid erosion due to slumping. These areas were repaired to preserve the mound. Early in its history, Cahokia underwent a massive construction boom.
Along with the early phase of Monks Mound, an overarching urban layout was established at the site. It was built with a symbolic quadripartite worldview and oriented toward the four cardinal directions with the main east-west and north-south axes defined with Monks Mound near its center point.
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