Cahokia Essay, Research Paper
Cahokia: The Great Civilization
A great civilization once stood in what now is present day East St. Louis, Illinois. This civilization of Mound Builders, known as the Hopewell culture, consisted of advanced mathematicians and ingenious architects. Nobody knows for sure what the natives called their town; the French named the town Cahokia , which derived from the word Kaowikia , what came from the name of a village inhabited by a subgroup of the Illini tribe which they encountered in the late 1600s. This great civilization emerged around AD 900 with the spreading of the Hopewell culture and grew into a great society. Cahokia once included 120 mounds and encompassed six square miles in its prime. These mounds were primarily made as burial and ceremonial platforms and just like the pyramids were used for only the privileged and upper class. Cahokia was a major religious and political center with a vast population. At around 1100 AD the Cahokian natives built a large wooden stockade about 12 to 15 feet high around the 300 acre center a, this mass wall might have been used to protect the high ranking society or to protect the occupants from attacks during wartime. In 1700 AD French Trappist monks casually planted gardens and orchards on the terraces of Cahokia s largest mound. This mound measures 700 feet by 1,080 feet at its base and rises 100 feet. The presence of the monks unintentionally gave the pyramid the name by which it is recognized today Monk s Mound. Monk s Mound is the largest of its kind north of Mexico and the grandest earthen construction in the New World. It covers more than 14 acres at its base, it contains four terraces, or tires which took about 22 million cubic feet of soil and 300 years of building in stages to achieve its colossal size. This enormous mass was platform topped; where a large wooden building measuring 105 feet long, 48 feet wide, and 50 feet high housed Cahokia s ruler. This ruler conducted ceremonies, rituals, and other official business. The rest of the population lived in small housing around the area.
This great civilization lasted for over 600 years, and developed some of the greatest structures in American history. The society that developed in 900 AD, began weaken around 1300 AD and finally met its demise two hundred years later. Many archeologists have drawn conclusions from evidence that they have found this conclusion reveals that their mass population growth at around 1100 AD caused Cahokia s downfall. They believe that the large population growth caused a decline in food and resources forcing a poverty upon Cahokia inhabitants.