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Lloyd K. Townsend
This exercise provides a good opportunity to prod students to think about comparing cultures throughout the world. More importantly, instructors might think about initiating a discussion about how we decide what "civilized" is and what measuring sticks we use and/or should use to compare one civilization with another. The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site web page provides more information about what is available at this location near East St. Louis, Illinois. Archaeologists believe that 40,000 people possibly lived at Cahokia around 1100 AD until their mysterious disappearance around 1300 AD. At that time, both the Mound Builder and Mississippian cultures had fallen into decline.
This artist's rendering of Cahokia, based on archaeological investigations, shows the huge central square and the imposing Monk's Mound, which rivaled in size the pyramids of Egypt.
Questions to Consider
- Describe the physical characteristics of Cahokia.
- Where does the center of community life appear to be?
- From looking at the picture, where do you think the elite members of the community lived? Why?
- If you know that the Monk's Mound in the picture rivaled in size the pyramids of Egypt, what deductions can you make of ancient Indian civilization in comparison to that of the ancient Egyptians?
Cahokia Mounds Historic Site. Photo by Art Grossman.