Did cahokia have agriculture


Cahokia in the twelfth century A.D. was the largest metropolitan area and the most complex political system in North America north of Mexico. Its metabolism depended on an area of high natural and agricultural productivity.Dec 3, 2019

Why was Cahokian agriculture so successful?

Cahokian agriculture was so successful that the city’s prosperity may have attracted migrants from across the region. Using an isotopic analysis of human bones at Cahokian gravesites, archaeologists have found that up to 30% of the population weren’t native to the area.

What is the history of Cahokia?

Although some evidence exists of occupation during the Late Archaic period (around 1200 BCE) in and around the site, Cahokia as it is now defined was settled around 600 CE during the Late Woodland period. Mound building at this location began with the emergent Mississippian cultural period, about the 9th century CE.

What was life like in Cahokia?

“It likely was a trading center,” Belknap says. Like a modern city with suburbs, Cahokia’s outer edge was a residential area, consisting of houses made from sapling frames lined with clay walls and covered by prairie grass roofs.

What was the staple crop of the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.


Was Cahokia agricultural?

Feeding Cahokia: Early Agriculture in the North American Heartland presents evidence to demonstrate that the emphasis on corn has created a distorted picture of Cahokia’s agricultural practices. Farming at Cahokia was biologically diverse and, as such, less prone to risk than was maize-dominated agriculture.

Did people in Cahokia grow crops?

As a corn-based economy grew in the fertile Mississippi Valley, providing a reliable food source all year, populations rose and villages grew. About 1000 A.D., Cahokia underwent a population explosion. Along with corn, Cahokians cultivated goosefoot, amaranth, canary grass and other starchy seeds.

Did the Cahokia grow corn?

Corn cultivation began in the vicinity of the city of Cahokia between A.D. 900 and 1000, researchers report in a new study. Its arrival may have contributed to the abrupt rise of this ancient metropolis in and around present-day St. Louis.

What is Cahokia known for?

Covering more than 2,000 acres, Cahokia is the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Best known for large, man-made earthen structures, the city of Cahokia was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400.

What crops grow in Cahokia?

“Long before corns, beans and squash became such a staple part of Native American diets across the midcontinent, it’s likely that the women farmers of Cahokia were appealing to a similar Earth Mother to guide their cultivation and harvest of native grains, such as maygrass, sunflower and chenopods,” Fritz said.

What did Cahokia trade?

Cahokia was located in a strategic position near the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and 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.

How did Cahokia gain power?

Then, Climate Change Destroyed It : The Salt : NPR. 1,000 Years Ago, Corn Made Cahokia, An American Indian City Big. Then, Climate Change Destroyed It : The Salt The Mississippian American Indian culture rose to power after A.D. 900 by farming corn.

How were the Cahokia Mounds built?

Cahokia was built rapidly, with thousands of people coming together to participate in its construction. As far as archaeologists know, there was no forced labor used to build these mounds; instead, people came together for big feasts and gatherings that celebrated the construction of the mounds.

Which of the following was Cahokia quizlet?

The dominant center of an important Mississippi valley mound-building culture, located near present-day St. Louis, Missouri; flourished from about 900 to 1250 C.E.

Who did Cahokia trade with?

Except for one filed tooth from Chaco, the 18 known filed teeth from Cahokia burials are the only filed teeth known north of Mexico. Chaco and Cahokia may have had organized trade with Toltec Mexico.

What were the mounds used for?

Rectangular, flat-topped mounds were primarily built as a platform for a building such as a temple or residence for a chief. Many later mounds were used to bury important people. Mounds are often believed to have been used to escape flooding.

What type of government did the Cahokia have?

The Cahokia polity was a political entity that existed with Cahokia as its center and exercising control over outlying areas. Unlike other Mississippian chiefdoms, the Cahokia polity had an unusual early emergence, high population, and noted greater regional influence.

When was Cahokia settled?

Although some evidence exists of occupation during the Late Archaic period (around 1200 BCE) in and around the site, Cahokia as it is now defined was settled around 600 CE during the Late Woodland period. Mound building at this location began with the emergent Mississippian cultural period, about the 9th century CE.

Why was Cahokia unhealthy?

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.

What tribe was Cahokia named after?

The city’s original name is unknown. The mounds were later named after the Cahokia tribe, a 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.

How many square miles were there in Cahokia?

At its apex around 1100 CE, the city covered about 6 square miles (16 km 2) and included about 120 manmade earthen mounds in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions. At the apex of its population, Cahokia may have briefly exceeded contemporaneous London, which at that time was approximately 14,000–18,000.

Why was Cahokia abandoned?

The population of Cahokia began to decline during the 13th century, and the site was eventually abandoned by around 1350. Scholars have proposed environmental factors, such as environmental degradation through overhunting, deforestation and pollution, and climatic changes, such as increased flooding and droughts, as explanations for abandonment of the site. However, more recent research suggests that there is no evidence of human-caused erosion or flooding at Cahokia.

Why did the Palisade of Cahokia decline?

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.

Where are the Cahokia mounds?

Louis, Missouri. This historic park lies in south-western Illinois between East St. Louis and Collinsville. The park covers 2,200 acres (890 ha), or about 3.5 square miles (9 km 2 ), and contains about 80 mounds, but the ancient city was much larger. At its apex around 1100 CE, the city covered about 6 square miles (16 km 2) and included about 120 manmade earthen mounds in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions. At the apex of its population, Cahokia may have briefly exceeded contemporaneous London, which at that time was approximately 14,000–18,000.

When did corn start to be consumed in Cahokia?

The corn remnants and isotope analyses revealed that corn consumption began in Cahokia between 900 and 1000. This was just before the city grew into a major metropolis.

How many people lived in Cahokia?

Beginning in about 1050, Cahokia grew from “a little village of a few hundred people to part of a city with 5,000 to 10,000 people in an archaeological instant,” Emerson said. The population eventually expanded to at least 40,000. This early experiment in urban living was short-lived, however.

What was the ancient city of Cahokia built on?

North America’s Ancient Metropolis Cahokia Was Built On Corn. Corn cultivation spread from Mesoamerica to what is now the American Southwest by about 4000 BC, but how and when the crop made it to other parts of North America is still a subject of debate. In a new study, scientists report that corn was not grown in the ancient metropolis …

Why is there no corn iconography?

The absence of corn iconography in artifacts from the city reflects corn’s status as a relative newcomer to the region at the time Cahokia first flourished , Emerson said.

Where did corn come from?

Scientists who theorize that corn came to the central Mississippi River valley early in the first millennium AD are overlooking the fact that the plant had to adapt to a completely different light and temperature regime before it could be cultivated in the higher latitudes, said Simon, who conducted an exhaustive analysis of corn kernels found at Cahokia and elsewhere in the Midwest.

What were the artifacts found in Cahokia?

Artifacts uncovered from Cahokia include flint-clay figurines of women engaged in agricultural activities and vessels marked with symbols of water and fertility.

When did corn consumption begin?

When they analyzed the carbon isotopes in the teeth and bones of 108 individuals buried in Cahokia between 600 and 1400, researchers saw a signature consistent with corn consumption beginning abruptly between 950 and 1000, Hedman said. The data from dogs buried at and near Cahokia also corresponded to this timeline.

Why was Cahokia important to the Mississippians?

Cahokia seems to also have been an important religious center for the Mississippians. On top of many of the earthwork mounds were temples and sacrificial sites, some with evidence of human sacrifices. That could also have contributed to Cahokia’s success, as groups of people from miles around may have migrated to be near this divine spot, Pauketat says.

Why did Cahokia Mounds collapse?

A thriving American Indian city that rose to prominence after A.D. 900 owing to successful maize farming, it may have collapsed because of changing climate.

Did Cahokia get flooded?

Rains inundating its western headwaters might have caused massive flooding at Cahokia, stressing the already faltering farms. “This area hadn’t been flooded like that for 600 years,” says Samuel Munoz, a paleoclimatologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute who did this research but wasn’t part of Bird’s study.

Was Cahokia a magnet city?

If it is true that Cahokia was a magnet city for many peoples, ethnic or cultural barriers between different groups could have led to political tension, he says. Then, the fall of Cahokia might have had a domino effect on other Mississippian city-states that depended culturally and politically on Cahokia, he adds.

Why was Cahokia abandoned?

By the 1400s, Cahokia had been abandoned due to floods, droughts, resource scarcity and other drivers of depopulation.

When did Native Americans repopulate the region?

The findings, just published in the journal American Antiquity, make the case that a fresh wave of Native Americans repopulated the region in the 1500s and kept a steady presence there through the 1700s, when migrations, warfare, disease and environmental change led to a reduction in the local population.

What did the Illinois Confederation tribe do?

Unlike the Mississippians who were firmly rooted in the Cahokia metropolis, the Illinois Confederation tribe members roamed further afield, tending small farms and gardens, hunting game and breaking off into smaller groups when resources became scarce.

Was the Cahokia exodus short lived?

But contrary to romanticized notions of Cahokia’s lost civilization, the exodus was short-lived, according to a new UC Berkeley study. UC Berkeley archaeologist A.J. White digs up sediment in search of ancient fecal stanols. (Photo by Danielle McDonald)

Did the Mississippian decline mark the end of Native American presence in the Cahokia region?

Overall, the results suggest that the Mississippian decline did not mark the end of a Native American presence in the Cahokia region, but rather reveal a complex series of migrations, warfare and ecological changes in the 1500s and 1600s, before Europeans arrived on the scene, White said.

When did Cahokia change its culture?

While large-scale corn production may have fueled the population needed to construct and inhabit Cahokia, the dramatic social and religious changes that took place between A.D. 900 and 1000 are still little understood.

Who built the Cahokia?

Cahokia was the largest city in pre-Columbian North America. It was built by Native Americans known as the Mississippians, who were responsible for erecting some of the most impressive earthen mounds on the continent. At its height, the city boasted several large, flat-topped platform mounds – including the 30meter tall, four-terraced Monk’s Mound, which covered approximately 6 hectares at its base.

What is the evidence for nixtamalization at Cahokia?

The evidence for nixtamalization at Cahokia comes in the form of funnel-shaped, tripod-like vessels called “stump-ware.” These, Emerson suggested, were most likely involved in hominy production. “There are no predecessors of these vessel types,” Emerson said. “And they show up about A.D. 900.”

When did corn become a staple?

The isotopic data in conjunction with the radiocarbon dates allowed the researchers to construct a timeline pinpointing when corn became a staple. The first domesticated crops grown were squash, sunflowers, and other seed-bearing plants but around A.D. 900 the results show that the Cahokians began growing and consuming corn. It was a practice that accelerated in size, effort and scope so that by A.D. 1000, corn played a vital role in the society’s subsistence practices.

Why did Cahokia collapse?

Cahokia abruptly collapsed by A.D. 1350 when the city’s population declined, possibly as the result of a severe drought and social unrest.

When did corn originate?

Corn originated in Mesoamerica between 10,000 and 9,000 years ago and spread north to the American Southwest by 6,000 years ago, Simon said. But it did not reach the American Midwest and east until much later. Its late adoption in these areas was likely a result of the plants having to adapt to a much shorter growing season. In other words, certain genetic changes had to occur before corn could be grown in the higher-latitude, more temperate climate of the Midwest. “As corn migrated north over thousands of years,” Simon said, “it finally adapted itself to the harsher climatic regime [of the Midwest], which has a much shorter growing season and earlier frosts.”

When were the mounds of corn built?

A greater emphasis on corn production and consumption coincided with the construction of the elaborate mounds – nearly 200 have been identified – that began in earnest around A.D. 1050. This culminated, in the next three centuries, in a city that spanned 2,200 acres and contained upwards of between 40,000 and 50,000 inhabitants.

What was the architecture of Cahokia?

Like a modern city with suburbs, Cahokia’s outer edge was a residential area, consisting of houses made from sapling frames lined with clay walls and covered by prairie grass roofs. Further inside was a log palisade wall and guard towers, which protected a central ceremonial precinct of the site, including Monks Mound, the Grand Plaza and 17 other mounds. More than 100 mounds extended more than a mile outside the wall in all directions. Some served as bases for what probably were important community buildings, while other cone-shaped mounds functioned as burial sites. Still others apparently were markers that delineated the city’s boundaries, according to Belknap.

When was Cahokia built?

One of the most remarkable things about Cahokia is that it appears to have been carefully planned around 1000 A.D., with a rectangular-shaped Grand Plaza whose core design mirrors the native vision of the cosmos, according to archaeologist Thomas Emerson.

How many stories are there in Chaco Canyon?

Builders in Chaco Canyon developed sophisticated stone masonry construction techniques that allowed them to erect 150 multi-story structures, some as tall as five to six stories in height, with hundreds of rooms. In addition to stone, the builders used about 240,000 trees, some harvested from the Chuska Mountains about 50 miles to the west, according to a 2015 study by University of Arizona scientists.

Why was Chaco Canyon abandoned?

Like Cahokia, the Chaco Canyon settlement was abandoned eventually. Some have suggested that people in the area cut down too much of the forests, leading to erosion and destruction of farming. But a 2014 study by University of New Mexico researchers concluded that there wasn’t evidence to support that scenario.

What is the significance of Cahokia Mounds?

The settlement was situated along a flood plain that provided fertile soil for agriculture, with nearby hickory forests to provide wood and other raw materials as well as wildlife to hunt, according to Lori Belknap, site manager for the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

Why did Cahokia disappear?

A recent study suggests the settlement’s demise was linked to climate change since a decrease in rainfall would have affected the Mississippians’ ability to grow their staple crop of maize.

Who described the urban centers as a landscape rich with its own history?

Those urban centers were part of what historians Lisa Krissoff Boehm and Steven Hunt Corey have described as “a landscape rich with its own history—a land shaped by diverse peoples living in varying patterns of settlement.”.




Although some evidence exists of occupation during the Late Archaic period (around 1200 BCE) in and around the site, Cahokia as it is now defined was settled around 600 CE during the Late Woodland period. Mound building at this location began with the emergent Mississippian cultural period, about the 9th century CE. The inhabitants left no written records beyond symbols on pottery…

Notable features

The original site contained 120 earthen mounds over an area of 6 square miles (16 km ), of which 80 remain today. To achieve that, thousands of workers over decades moved more than an estimated 55 million cubic feet (1,600,000 m ) of earth in woven baskets to create this network of mounds and community plazas. Monks Mound, for example, covers 14 acres (5.7 ha), rises 100 ft (30 …

Related mounds

Until the 19th century, a series of similar mounds was documented as existing in what is now the city of St. Louis, some 8 mi (13 km) to the west of Cahokia. Most of these mounds were leveled during the development of St. Louis, and much of their material was reused in construction projects.
The lone survivor of these mounds is Sugarloaf Mound. Located on the west bank of the Mississ…

Cahokia Museum and Interpretive Center

The Cahokia Museum and Interpretive Center, which receives up to a million visitors a year, was designed by AAIC Inc. The building, which opened in 1989, received the Thomas H. Madigan Award, the St. Louis Construction News & Reviews Readers Choice Award, the Merit Award from the Metal Construction Association, and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Brick Manufac…


Cahokia Mounds was first protected by the state of Illinois in 1923 when its legislature authorized purchase of a state park. Later designation as a state historic site offered additional protection, but the site came under significant threat from the federal highway building program in the 1950s. The highway program reduced the site’s integrity; however, it increased funding for emergency archeological investigations. These investigations became intensive, and today continue. They h…

See also

• American Bottom
• List of Mississippian sites
• Mississippian Ideological Interaction Sphere
• Mississippian stone statuary


• ^ a: See Engraved beaker from Cahokia site, donated by Moorehead, ISM collection. for image of the object in question.

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