The massive earthen mounds of ancient Cahokia in southwestern Illinois form the largest and most complex archaeological site in the United States. Here, at the center of a vibrant Native American culture, a settlement of Mississippian Indians grew, prospered, and declined. Tracing perceptions of the Cahokian landscape from the times of Indians and explorers, Envisioning Cahokia details the archaeology of North America's largest prehistoric urban center. Illustrated with a variety of images, this unique book provides new insights into Cahokian lifeways, land use, and culture through a landscape approach that explores the interrelationship of environment and society. Moving back and forth through time from the present landscape to the original settlement allows a unified and holistic vision of the site, in contrast to the fragmentary glimpse commonly offered by traditional approaches. Using the latest data from remote sensing and archaeological field studies, the authors examine such structures as the immense Grand Plaza and the impressive mounds used for both community ceremonies and burials.
These mounds and other features of Cahokia form a political and social map, revealing a rich and elaborate culture. The authors show how settlement and ceremonial patterns defined power structures and belief systems, and how Cahokians may have perceived their place in the physical and spiritual worlds. The authors' combined experience in archaeology, geography, geology, and landscape architecture results in a dynamic interpretation of society and resources. Tracing the history of the Cahokians and their landscape, Envisioning Cahokia leads readers to a new awareness of a culture that will forever inspire wonder and respect.