The Birdman Tablet, the official logo of Cahokia Mounds, was found during excavations on the east side of Monks Mound in 1971. The image on the 'front' of the tablet is of a human, dressed in eagle (or falcon) regalia. The 'reverse' of the tablet is plain or cross-hatched, suggesting the pattern on the skin of a snake.
So both the sky world and underworld are represented, with the human image existing 'between' them.
This is the only such artifact found in an excavation by professional archaeologists, but a half dozen or more similar sized sandstone tablets have been discovered near Cahokia. Several were known to have near identical cross-hatching on one side, but were plain on the other. A couple of these have been found in the northern portions of Cahokia and around Horseshoe Lake and in excavations on Monks Mound and for the Interpretive Center.
Around the turn of the 20th century, half of a sandstone tablet was found in the field directly east of Monks Mound. Known as the Peet Tablet or the Ramey Tablet, both sides of this example were divided into even quadrants by what some interpret as 'painted poles'.
On the 'front' of the tablet are two heads, facing outward. Both heads have beaded fore-locks, and possibly forms of a 'turban' or 'crown' hair style. It is possible these images could represent individuals of rather high status. The blocky nature of the lips and chin, and the strange 'notched' appearance of the neck probably indicates these faces are also wearing masks, like the figure on the Birdman Tablet. If one concludes these individuals are NOT wearing masks, it is possible the notching indicates that these are decapitated heads.
The two quadrants on the 'reverse' of the Peet Tablet are decorated by the heads of pileated woodpeckers. It is interesting to note that in historic times these birds have been considered 'pests' by power companies because of their strong attraction to telephone poles.
The actual purpose of such tablets remains a mystery to this day.
The excavations at the East Lobes were conducted to determine if the slumps might have represented the remnants of prehistoric 'ramps'.
We now know that such 'lobes' resulted from large segments of earth which slumped from the upper sides of the mound. There are similar slumpages elsewhere on Monks Mound, particularly on the north-west and western sides.
Archaeologists believe that some of these slumpages may have occured prehistorically, while the site was still a thriving city. It is possible these have covered over important buildings and artifacts in place, leaving the possiblity of exciting discoveries to come.
One can only imagine how the inhabitants would react to such dramatic events as they watched large portions of their sacred mound slumping down and possibly crushing elite residences and ceremonial structures.