I have an archaeological / anthropological / historical Bucket List in my head. Stonehenge is Number One. But Cahokia Mounds? They definitely make the cut!
Cahokia was the most sophisticated native settlement north of Mexico, lasting from about 700AD - 1400AD. At its height at about 1000AD, up to 20,000 people may have lived here. Cahokia Mounds are what remains of this Mississipian civilization. Many of the mounds, in all different sizes, have been excavated, studied, and cataloged over the years. Today, visitors are able to make a climb to the top of the main feature, Monk's Mound, by modern staircase. Monk's Mound is over 100' tall. From the top, you can see for miles across the Mississippi River and to St. Louis.
After the decline of the Cahokia civilization, the area was home to early French explorers and Trappist Monks. Today, Cahokia is enveloped into the town of Collinsville, though the main features are preserved. There is a world-class interpretive center filled with artifacts, dioramas, photographs, and information about the peoples and the site. There are exceptional maps, and it is free to visit. The Mounds are both an Illinois State Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you find yourself in the St. Louis area, take part of a day to visit Cahokia Mounds. For now, here is the link to their terrific website and my photos of our visit. Enjoy!
|some history of Cahokia|
|mounds as viewed from atop Monk's Mound|
|signage describing the astrological Woodhenge|
|a henge! in real life!|
|henge center post looking east to Monk's Mound|
|The Birdman Tablet|
|small sample of the many artifacts found at Cahokia|
|Me! and St. Louis in the background|