When I first arrived, I walked through the visitor’s center. The visitor’s center alone had several pieces of artwork. The displays and mannequins were incredible to look at. The imitation Mississippians were very life-like and realistic looking as they were set up in displays of what they would have done on a daily basis. I did not realize that Cahokia Mounds covers five square miles. I always thought of it as just one huge mound with buried objects instead of the area consisting of several mounds making an entire village. Wondering how the large mounds were made, especially the largest mound, Monks Mound, I asked. Apparently, the mounds of earth were made from “borrow pits” with stone and wood tools. The dirt was then taken in baskets on people’s back. Many “borrow pits” can still be seen in the area.
Besides building these ceremonial mounds, the Mississippians were known for making pottery by the coil method. Clay soil found along creek banks in this area made excellent clay soil for pottery. Tattooing with bone needles and an antler striker was also very common. Ochre pigment and/or black carbon pigment was used to create many facial designs on the Mississippians. Also, several archaic spear points were found.
Finally, I climbed up Monks Mound. It was incredible how far you could see. The mound takes up fourteen acres alone. There were so many stairs that I could not imagine how the Mississippians would have climbed it daily. It would be amazing to be able to see the view without all the distant buildings that have now been built. I cannot imagine the back- breaking work it took to create this unnatural mound of earth.
I am glad to have finally visited. I have been wanting to for many years. I hate the fact that the question of where the Mississippians went when the land was finally abandoned is unknown. Thankfully, the mounds were there to protect what history archeologists were able to find out.
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