From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Author and anthropologist Pauketat (Chiefdoms and Other Archaeological Delusions) locates a civilizational "big bang" in the Mississippi River valley of 1050 CE, where "social life, political organization, religious belief, art, and culture were radically transformed" by a highly ambitious group of American Indians and their capital city, Cahokia, located east of what is now St. Louis. In this illuminating text, Pauketat examines the life, death, and rediscovery of this vast urban population and their game-changing cultural innovations (ranging from innocuous but influential sports like "chunkey" to large-scale reenactments of mythical stories, featuring bloody human sacrifice). Page by page, Pauketat compiles the fascinating details of a complex archeological puzzle; explaining the study of cross-cultural goddess worship, cave art, hand tools and games, this volume doubles as a crash-course in the archeological method. Pauketat's academic approach responsibly invites opposing viewpoints, and his writing is rich in you-are-there detail, making this an archeological adventure suitable for pre-Columbian enthusiasts as well as inquisitive laymen.
"This informative book about Cahokia is also a rich source for theories and techniques applicable to archaeological and historical records elsewhere."--William Gustav Gartner, "Historical Geography,"
"This is an excellent volume. It is well organized and edited, and the individual contributions provide lots of data and provocative ideas. The book will serve as an important springboard for future research on Cahokian social history."--"American Anthropologist,"
"The book consists of thirteen essays that together constitute a complex and superbly crafted social history of Cahokia. . . . The contributors have written provocative and, for the most part, accessible essays that are both refreshing in their propositions and important in their conclusions."--"Journal of Southern History,"
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