Cahokia: Unveiling the Secrets of America’s Ancient Metropolis

  • Mysterious Mounds: Cahokia is famous for its earthen mounds, with the largest being Monks Mound. Standing at about 100 feet tall, it is the largest prehistoric earthwork in the Americas. The purpose of these mounds remains partly a mystery, but they are believed to have been used for ceremonial and residential purposes.
Monks Mound Source:
  • A Complex Society: At its peak around AD 1050-1200, Cahokia was home to as many as 20,000 people, making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time. The society had a complex social hierarchy and advanced urban planning, including a central plaza, palisaded villages, and various public buildings.
  • Woodhenge: Archaeologists discovered a series of large wooden post circles near Cahokia, dubbed “Woodhenge.” These structures are thought to have been used as solar calendars to mark solstices and equinoxes, demonstrating the sophisticated astronomical knowledge of the Cahokians.
Woodhenge Source:

  • Mystery of Decline: The reasons for Cahokia’s decline around the 13th century remain unclear. Theories range from environmental changes and resource depletion to social upheaval and external conflict. The sudden abandonment of the city has puzzled historians and archaeologists for years.

  • Cultural Legacy: Cahokia’s cultural and religious practices influenced many other Native American societies across the Midwest and Southeast. The city’s legacy continues to be studied and celebrated, shedding light on North America’s rich pre-Columbian history.