Monday, March 28, 2016

The Downfall of Cahokia


Cahokia Largest & Most Influential Urban Settlement

Around 1,000 years ago, Cahokia in North America was the greatest city composed of 120 mounds spread out over 15 square kilometres of the enormous Mississippi adjacent floodplain. The city at one point had a population of 20,000 larger than that of London and other prominent European centres. Some have assessed of even more impressive 40,000 inhabitants within it ancient city limits.

Cahokia was the largest as well as the most influential urban settlement in the Mississippian culture that had advanced societies most of which is now the central and the south-eastern United States, beginning over 1000 years before the European. Presently Cahokia Mounds is said to be the largest and the most complex archaeological site, north of the great pre-Columbian cities in Mexico.

The Cahokia Mounds is considered to be a National Historic Landmark and is a designated site for state protection. Moreover it is also one of the only 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the United States. It is the largest prehistoric stone construction in the Americas north of Mexico and the site is open to the visitors which is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and supported by the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society.

Its Discovery – Accidental

The settlement is said to have flourished till around 600 – 700 years ago when the population had already declined and reeled from the political struggles characteristic to all civilization had been apparently destroyed by some mysterious natural disaster.

 It now appears that a series of mega floods could be responsible. Its discovery had been accidental and researchers were rummaging the sediment from Horseshoe Lake in the vicinity of the city’s epicentre. The search was of fossilized remains, artifacts, and pollen to measure the extent of human activity at Cahokia.

However, they found evidence for various past flooding event, that had occurred frequently before Cahokia was located. The floods had taken a hiatus and then returned with a vengeance at the time the population had decline. Hence the city’s great riparian lifeline that ensured its existence, assured its downfall also.

Mysterious End of Ancient City – Unexplained

The mysterious end of the ancient city of Cahokia tends to remain unexplained though research now recommend that the catastrophic mega-floods could have devastated the crops and food stores, forcing the inhabitants to abandon the metropolis suddenly, some 800 years ago.

Cahokia had been one of the most sophisticated civilizations in North America and many have been speculating on its puzzling history. It was a prehistoric metropolis inhabited by people who were of advanced civilization and built impressive solar observatories and over 100 earthen mounds of different sizes, most of which seemed to be massive, square bottomed and flat topped pyramids.

The name of the city was CahokiaCity of the Sun and the inhabitants signified a Native American culture. The name Cahokia is associated to the name of a sub-tribe of the Illini Confederacy which is a tribal group composed of twelve or thirteen allied tribes, occupying areas which are presently part of four states, comprising of the region where the town of St Louis originated in 1764. In fact the original name of the city had never been recorded.

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