Book Signing: Gayle J. Fritz on January 20

Gayle Fritz is professor emerita at Washington University in St. Louis, having retired recently after more than three decades of teaching archaeology and ethnobotany. She has worked at archaeological sites ranging in age from the Archaic to the Historic period, and analyzed plant remains from sites as far west and south as Chihuahua, Mexico, and as far east as North Carolina. Her research focuses on plant domestication, agricultural intensification, and changing foodways across eastern North America, including the fertile American Bottom region, home to ancient Cahokia and other Mississippian mound centers.

Gayle J. Fritz, PhD will be at Cahokia Mounds on January 20 at 3:00 pm to sign her new book, now available for purchase, “Feeding Cahokia: Early Agriculture in the North American Heartland.”

From the Alabama Press catalog and Feeding Cahokia book jacket:

“This book 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. Gayle J. Fritz shows that the division between the so-called elites and commoners simplifies and misrepresents the statuses of farmers – a workforce consisting of adult women and their daughters who belonged to kin groups crosscutting all levels of the Cahokia social order….


This highly accessible narrative…highlights the biologically diverse agriculture system by focusing on plants, such as erect knotweed, chenopod, and maygrass, which were domesticated in the midcontinent and grown by generations of farms before Cahokia Mounds grew to be the largest Native American population center north of Mexico.  Fritz also looks at traditional farming systems for strategies that would be helpful to modern agriculture, including reviving wild and weedy descendants of these lost crops for re-domestication.  With a wealth of detail on specific sites, traditional foods, artifacts such as famous figurines, and color photos of significant plants, Feeding Cahokia will satisfy both scholars and interested readers.”


The Book Signing will be held in the lobby of the Interpretive Center, immediately following the 2:00 pm Winter Lecture Series presentation.

For more information, call 618-346-5160.