November 17 CAS Talk: “Grandmother—Up in Smoke: Traces of Cahokians in Distant Lands”

At the November 17 meeting of the Cahokia Archaeological Society, Steve Boles, Senior Research Archaeologist for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, will give a talk entitled “Grandmother—Up in Smoke: Traces of Cahokians in Distant Lands.” The abstract of the lecture can be found below.

Decades of research on the birth of the Mississippian culture and the founding of Cahokia has shown that at the onset, Cahokia drew immigrants from all directions. It was, in essence, the Pre-Contact “melting pot” of its time. We also know that people began departing Cahokia roughly a hundred years after it began. Although the complete depopulation of Cahokia would take another two hundred years, a substantial depopulation of Cahokia is evident by the 12th century. Where did they go? Although a number of researchers are focusing on that question, the answer is quite elusive. How does one “track” Cahokian emigrants? Of all the Cahokia trappings, very few would be distinguishable in the archaeological record. At the top of the list, however, would be the Cahokia-style figurines or statues, many created as or converted to pipes. A rather obscure female effigy pipe carved in the Cahokia-style and recovered in Oklahoma will be the focus of this presentation. This effigy is likely a depiction of a mythological persona often referred to as Grandmother or Old Woman. Other notable figurines and identifiable Cahokian material recovered in distant lands will also be discussed.