Local Podcast Series Features Cahokia Mounds Agriculture

“Uncovering Cahokia’s Food History & Forgotten Farmscapes.”
Check out this new episode of the podcast series “Grounded by the Farm!” This week’s episode “Uncovering Cahokia’s Food History & Forgotten Farmscapes” features local anthropologist, Dr. Gayle Fritz, Professor emeritus from Washington University. Listen-in as Gayle and the host “uncover the mysteries of this once-thriving metropolis and its food and farming footprint.”
ℹ️ If you would like to know more about Cahokia agriculture pick up a copy of Gayle’s book “Feeding Cahokia: Early Agriculture in the North American Heartland” from our online Gift Shop or purchase over the phone at 618-344-9221.

Discover Ancient America at Archaeology Day

Cahokia Mounds will host its annual Archaeology Day on Saturday, August 5 from 10 – 4.   The event features ancient craft demonstrations such as; bow and arrow making, flintknapping and tool use, pottery making, stone carving, fingerweaving and fiber spinning, and more.  Visitors can throw spears with an atlatl, tour the excavations, watch archaeologists at work, and help screen dirt or process artifacts from the excavations.  Food and drinks will be available for purchase and the St. Louis Food Truck “STL BLT” will be on site from 11-2.  This is a free event, however a suggested donation box is located in the lobby.   For more information call 618-346-5160.

Eclipse Lecture

On August 13, Cahokia Mounds will offer a special lecture at 2 pm, by Russell Weisman, Senior Historic Preservation Specialist, MoDOT Environmental and Historic Preservation Section, titled “In the Shadow of the Moon, Solar Eclipses in the Cahokian Sky — AD 800-1300.

On Monday August 21, 2017 millions of Americans from Oregon to South Carolina will have the rare opportunity to witness and experience a total eclipse of the sun.  This presentation will review similar events that occurred in the ancient skies above Cahokia and will consider prehistoric beliefs about solar eclipses and celestial shadows and how they may have influenced Mississippian art, iconography, and religion.  Particular attention will be paid to a pair of sunrise total eclipses that were visible on the eastern horizon above Cahokia in AD 831 and AD 941, and rock art located along the shadow paths of those events that may have been created to commemorate them.

This is a free event and will be held in the Auditorium.  Seating is limited and will be on a first come first served basis.  For more information contact 618-346-5160.

Winter Lecture Series

The 2017 Winter Lecture Series begins January 15 at 2 pm.  The first installment is Geophysical Prospection and Excavation of Middle Woodland Mounds in the Lower Illinois Valley.   Jason King, PhD, Director, Center for American Archeology, Kampsville, Illinois, will present on geophysical surveys and excavation of Middle Woodland mounds.  This presentation will discuss recent insights gained at several mound sites in the valley and their importance for understanding Illinois Valley prehistory.

The second lecture will take place February 26, at 2 pm.   Tamira K. Brennan, PhD, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, American Bottom Field Station Coordinator will present Insights and Updates on Greater Cahokia from Excavations at the East St. Louis Precinct.   This presentation overviews the results of the past five years of analysis and reporting on ISAS’ research at the East St. Louis Mound Complex.

Abstract:  The Interstate 70 approach to the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge lies over what was once a Native American mound center second only in size to Cahokia:  East St. Louis.  From 2009-2012 the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) undertook extensive excavations at East St. Louis, revealing a densely occupied village and ceremonial center that spanned the Terminal Late Woodland and Mississippian periods (AD 900-1250).  In total, over 6,000 archaeological pits, structures, monumental posts, and other features were uncovered.  These features and the materials recovered from them tell us about the daily life of the peoples who once inhabited this region, about the social and political structure of their society, and about how East St. Louis, Cahokia, and many other villages large and small together formed one of North America’s first and largest pre-Columbian cities.  This talk overviews the results of the past five years of analysis and reporting on ISAS’ research at the East St. Louis Mound Complex.

On March 19, at 2 pm, G. William Monaghan, PhD Indiana Geological Survey, Indiana University-Bloomington and Jeremy J. Wilson, PhD, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will present Anthropogenic Transformation and Population Processes at Angel Mounds:  The Founding, Flourishment and Final Days of a Mississippian Village. 

Abstract:  Since 2005, archaeological investigations at Angel Mounds, a Mississippian village along the Ohio River in southwest Indiana, have tackled a series of questions related to anthropogenic transformation, the timing of fortification construction, and the use-life for various habitation components of the site.  Collectively this research aims to understand the intensity and trajectory of population-level processes at the site from its founding in the 11th century through abandonment in the early 15th century.  The well-controlled chronology and developmental history for Angel Mounds derived from a decade of excavations and re-analysis of collections shows that the site underwent different developmental phases.  The first occurred AD 1070-1250 with the site serving as an unfortified, ceremonial center with intensive earthwork construction, but few permanent residents.   The second phase included the development of a fortified village and increased residential population after AD 1300.  Meanwhile, the abandonment of Angel Mounds in the early 15th century is attributed to increasing socio-political instability triggered by escalating levels of regional warfare and climatic unpredictability associated with the onset of the Little Ice Age.

Painting With a Purpose Fundraiser

Join us for a fun new way to support Cahokia Mounds!  The Museum Society is hosting a fundraiser at Painting with a Twist, 3760 Green Mt. Crossing Dr., Shiloh, IL on January 14, from 1-4 pm.  The fee is $35.  All supplies are provided and their artist will guide the instruction step-by-step so there is no need for experience!  Children 7 and up are welcome to register.  Painting with a Twist will donate HALF of all registrations to Cahokia Mounds!   You will be painting your very own winter scene and supporting cultural preservation and interpretation.  There are only 45 available spots in the studio so join us on January 14 and paint with a PURPOSE!  Register by going to

New Presentations Added to Conference

The Mississippian Conference, held in the auditorium on July 30 from 8:30 – 4:00, is now full.  There will be 18 presentations and several poster presentations that focus on recent research relating to Mississippian culture or Cahokia Mounds.

Newly added presenters include:

James Brown, Northwestern University, Emeritus, Archaeological Fact and Fiction about the Osage

Duane Esarey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Untangling the Piasa’s Tale: A revision of Payiihsa Symbolism

Russell Weisman, Missouri Department of Transportation, The Redhorn Panel at Picture Cave:  A Solar Eclipse Allegory

Scott Hipskind and Jeremy Wilson, University of Indiana-Purdue University – Indianapolis, The Walsh Site and the Central Illinois River Valley:  A Century of Speculation on Mississippian Occupation Tested by Geophysical Prospection

Bob Dymek and John Kelly, Washington University, On the Source of Basaltic Materials Found in the Cahokia Region

John Kelly, Washington University, Corin Pursell, Washington University, Grant Stauffer, Washington University, and Imma Valese, University of Bologna,  Contextualizing the Ongoing Excavations at Cahokia:  2015-2016



Exhibit Project Wins National Award

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has awarded Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site with an Award of Merit for Wetlands and Waterways: The Key to Cahokia.  This Leadership in History Award, now in its 71st year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.   This year, AASLH is proud to confer sixty-three national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications that represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.   The Wetlands and Waterways exhibit project is a 52-foot, life-sized diorama exhibit that depicts the importance of the extensive waterways and natural resources to the growth and success of the culture that lived here from about AD 1000 – AD 1350.  It features a 21-foot, 700-year old dugout canoe and an accompaniment book.


Wetlands Exhibit pic