Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi (Penguin Library of American Indian History)

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9780143117476: Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi (Penguin Library of American Indian History)

The fascinating story of a lost city and an unprecedented American civilization

While Mayan and Aztec civilizations are widely known and documented, relatively few people are familiar with the largest prehistoric Native American city north of Mexico-a site that expert Timothy Pauketat brings vividly to life in this groundbreaking book. Almost a thousand years ago, a city flourished along the Mississippi River near what is now St. Louis. Built around a sprawling central plaza and known as Cahokia, the site has drawn the attention of generations of archaeologists, whose work produced evidence of complex celestial timepieces, feasts big enough to feed thousands, and disturbing signs of human sacrifice. Drawing on these fascinating finds, Cahokia presents a lively and astonishing narrative of prehistoric America.

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About the Author:

Timothy R. Pauketat is an American archaeologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. After earning a BS in anthropology and earth sciences from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, he worked as a staff archaeologist at the Center for American Archaeology. Pauketat is best known for his research on Cahokia, the center of the large, regional Mississippian culture that extended throughout the Mississippi Valley and tributaries.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle Last year, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained that Illinois's budgetary problems were leading to neglect at Cahokia Mounds, a state park. But as Timothy R. Pauketat's new book makes clear, Cahokia Mounds is not just of state importance (it is also a U.N. World Heritage Site). The great mounds built across the Mississippi River from St. Louis were quite influential, believes Pauketat, an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: "The people of this North American city seem to have created their own culture, then proceeded to spread it across the Midwest and into the South and Plains with a religious fervor." In other words, Cahokia was the mother of North American mound mania, whose beginnings go back a thousand years. Mound-building flourished in a culture that made much of the planet Venus, exacted human sacrifice and ate a diet heavy on maize. Some archaeologists believe that there are links between Cahokia and the great civilizations of pre-Columbian Mexico, to which Cahokian residents may well have traveled and from which they may have brought back stories and images that figure in Cahokian mythology, such as "the cult of a Corn Mother or of twin Thunderers." Pauketat's book, which summarizes these and other theories as to what the Cahokia site means, is part of the Penguin Library of American Indian History.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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