Northern Illinois University Press

Envisioning Cahokia

A Landscape Perspective

Rinita A. Dalan, George R. Holley, William I. Woods, Harold W. Watters, Jr. and John A. Koepke

"No other group of people could have written this landmark interpretation. Their training and experiences in archaeology, geography, and the natural sciences make them the perfect people to create this unique and attractive work."—William E. Doolittle, author of Cultivated Landscapes of Native North America

"A major contribution to the field of Cahokia studies."—Mark Mehrer, author of Cahokia's Countryside

"[This] should profoundly alter future discussion and evaluations of Cahokia, as well as other Mississippian centers."—Ohio Valley History

The massive earthen mounds of ancient Cahokia in southwestern Illinois form the largest and most complex archaeological site in the United States. Here, at the center of a vibrant Native American culture, a settlement of Mississippian Indians grew, prospered, and declined. Tracing perceptions of the Cahokian landscape from the times of Indians and explorers to the present, Envisioning Cahokia details the archaeology of North America's largest prehistoric urban center.

Illustrated with a variety of images, this unique book provides new insights into Cahokian lifeways, land use, and culture through a landscape approach that explores the interrelationship of environment and society. Using the latest data from remote sensing and archaeological field studies, the authors examine such structures as the immense Grand Plaza and the impressive mounds used for both community ceremonies and burials. These mounds and other features of Cahokia form a political and social map, revealing a rich and elaborate culture. The authors show how settlement and ceremonial patterns defined power structures and belief systems, and suggest ways Cahokians may have perceived their place in the physical and spiritual worlds.

Tracing the history of the Cahokians and their landscape, Envisioning Cahokia leads readers to a new awareness of a culture that will forever inspire wonder and respect.

(2003) 251 pp., illus.
ISBN-13: 978-0-87580-594-8
ISBN-10: 0-87580-594-9
Paper $32.50

Table of Contents

Part One: Landscape and Culture
1. The Landscape Concept
2. A Landscape Approach
Part Two: Cahokian Landscapes
3. The Cahokian Landscape
4. Settling Cahokia
5. Landscape Structure
6. Landscape Change
Part Three: Landscape and Meaning
7. Cahokians in the Landscape
8. Building Cahokia
9. Landscape Elements
10. Landscape Symbolism
11. Abandonment
Biographical Sketches

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-594-8
paper $32.50