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Cahokia: City of the Sun : Prehistoric Urban Center in the American Bottom 3rd Edition Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1881563006
ISBN-10: 1881563006
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Claudia Gellman Mink began her association with Cahokia Mounds in the early 1970s. During her ten years as an educator and curator at the St. Louis Museum of Science and Natural History, she researched and designed exhibits for both her institution and for Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center. She also spent a summer digging at a Cahokia archaeological site.

Ms. Mink holds a B.A. degree in Anthropology from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She is a lifelong resident of the St. Louis area.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A thousand years ago, a civilization more sophisticated and powerful than any other in the Western Hemisphere north of Mexico grew up and flourished in the rich Mississippi River bottom land of southwestern Illinois and environs.

These native American peoples -- who are called MISSISSIPPIANS by archaeologists -- supported a population as large as 20,000 at their zenith with a wide-scale agricultural economy based primarily on the cultivation of corn. The crops they grew combined with the regions bountiful wildlife and indigenous plants to form a stable, year-round food supply. Such stability and ties to the land gave rise to the formation of permanent settlements that grew into an extensive network of communities with a regional center of metropolitan proportions.

The sedentary lifestyle of the Mississippians made possible other hallmarks of advanced civilization: widespread commerce; stratified social, political, and religious organization; specialized and refined crafts; and monumental architecture, here in the form of earthen mounds covering up to 14 acres and rising as high as 100 feet.

Their extraordinary success continued for five centuries until, for reasons still unknown, the sun set on the Mississippians as it had on the great Mayan, Egyptian and Mesopotamian people before them. Finally, when the agencies of the state of Illinois carried out the first scientific investigations of the area in the 1920s, the true extent of this vibrant culture began to emerge.

The remnants of the Mississippian's central city -- now known as Cahokia for the Indians who lived nearby in the late 1600s -- are preserved within the 2200-acre tract that is the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Located just eight miles east of downtown St. Louis, Missouri, near Collinsville, Illinois, Cahokia was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for its vital contribution to the understanding of North American prehistory.

This book, and the Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center, attempt to weave as rich a tapestry as possible of life at Cahokia from approximately A.D. 800 to A.D. 1300. Current thinking is based on 70 years of archaeological research and the journals of 16th through 18th century European adventurers who traveled among tribes of what is now the southeastern United States. Scholars believe that much of what the chroniclers noted were Mississippian traditions that survived long after Cahokia's decline. The arrival of Europeans on this continent marks the division between prehistoric and historic times in the study of North American cultures.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Cahokia Mounds Museum Society; 3rd Edition edition (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1881563006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1881563006
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #860,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By ewomack VINE VOICE on September 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
North America had medieval cities. Big ones. One enormous metropolis in particular dominated cultural and economic life up and down the Mississippi River between 800 AD and 1400 AD. The city now goes by the name Cahokia, after a tribe that occupied the area following the european influx. No known records reveal its original name, nor the names of its some 15,000 people. In fact, no written or verbal records about this place made it down to the present day. None whatsoever. Not even the purported ancestors of its inhabitants had or have anything to say about it. Somehow the city vanished from memory. But a ciy it was, at least according to archaeology. And it remained the largest North American city on record until 1800.

"Cahokia: City of the Sun" provides the best general introduction to this extremely important North American landmark and UNESCO World Heritage site. Filled with color photos and maps it helps bring the shadowy Cahokia to life. Eight chapters cover its culture, social hierarchy, origins, buildings, and life. And all in accessible nontechnical language. Not only that, it includes an introductory chapter on archaeology and the methods used to infer the past from artifacts. An important chapter, because most of what we know about the site comes from excavations or inferences from other native cultures.

No one knows why Cahokia collapsed. The dominant theories include political strife, climate change, and depletion of natural resources. Though the Cahokian's culture disappeared from memory, they nonetheless left impressive cultural artifacts in the form of earthen mounds. Many of these still stand near Collingsville, Illinois. The largest, Monks Mound, stands some 130 feet high and offers an impressive view of downtown St. Louis.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Doug Elwell on March 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent introduction to the history and archaeology of the Cahokia acropolis. Compact and readable, and accessible to both young and old, Cahokia: City of the Sun is the perfect book for those interested in getting started in the study of Cahokia, or for those who just want to know a little more about the ancient history of the American Midwest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Walter W. Ko on July 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
This well organized and compact text gives a good introduction to City of the Sun - Cahokia along the Mississippi. It was a metro with thousands of people and mysterious disappeared from history. However, this tribe left a good numbers of mounds and artifacts to check out for research.

This book described what was known in terms of time, culture, city, structures, the village, life and artifacts. With archaeology and research, more discoveries will lead to a better understanding on this ancient city. The Interpretive Center brings the story and full size setting alive so that visitors rides the time machine to understand and appreciate life on the Mississippi. Unfortunately, urbanization destroyed some of the sites. Only a few mounds were well protected and preserved as World Heritage Site. Climbing to the top in 234 steps on Monk Mound help visitor experience being a sun worshiper as Cahokia Indian Chief Priest. The Twin Mounds were visible with a wonderful view of the surrounding.

Cahokia has the largest collection of mounds north of Mexico. Reading this book helps understand the history of development of ancient American culture and civilization. Site visit is an interesting trip to appreciate this American heritage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr Gumby on January 4, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that one would purchase at the gift store at the Cahokia Mounds site. The text is a description of the Cahokia Mounds site and about the Mississippian Indian culture that constructed the site. There are eight chapters titled Time, Culture, City, Structures, The Village, Life, Products, and Knowing. At less than eighty pages of text, it provides a cursory history at best. I am interested in the historical development of cities and I was hoping that this book would provide a little more detail on the history of the of Cahokia site, its layout, and how it relates to other such settlements, but there was only a few pages on the subject. One can find plenty of books on the historical development of cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but too few on urban development in the Americas,especially North America, prior to European contact. There are plenty of pictures as well as a list of recommended reading for those who want to learn more. As an introduction, it might work for a middle school student who needs to do some research for a project on the topic. I gave it three stars only because I was looking for something a bit more detailed.
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