Good Read: Cahokia by Timothy Pauketat
While Mayan and Aztec civilizations are widely known and documented, relatively few people are familiar with the largest prehistoric Native American city north of Mexico-a site that expert Timothy Pauketat brings vividly to life in this groundbreaking book. Almost a thousand years ago, a city flourished along the Mississippi River near what is now St. Louis. Built around a sprawling central plaza and known as Cahokia, the site has drawn the attention of generations of archaeologists, whose work produced evidence of complex celestial timepieces, feasts big enough to feed thousands, and disturbing signs of human sacrifice. Drawing on these fascinating finds, Cahokia presents a lively and astonishing narrative of prehistoric America.
Kate Lochte says:
“WKMS Morning Edition host Todd Hatton told me I’d enjoy Cahokia by anthropologist Timothy R. Pauketat, and I did. Perchance you’ve visited the mounded remains of this city which was a bustling cultural center in the year 1050 across from St. Louis, MO? Standing atop Monk’s Mound summons the ancients. Pauketat’s book seeks to place Cahokia in the context of the indigenous civilizations of the Mississippi Valley through fascinating analysis of physical and spiritual artifacts and their interpretation by generations of scientists and archaeologists whose approaches vary with the political-theoretical trending of their academic fields over the years. Since childhood, the great ancient monuments of the American Southwest have captivated me, but the ancient life in our very coverage area only came to life for me upon visiting Wickliffe Mounds three decades ago. The feeling at Cahokia – a significantly larger community than Wickliffe – was as strong for me as standing in the Great Kiva at Mesa Verde or the Serpent Mound in Southeast Ohio. Read the book and you too will want to know more about mysteries like the pecked-out map on a boulder in Thebes Gap’s Grand Chain on the Mississippi and the Red Man Art in the Gottschall Rockshelter and Picture Cave. Too bad educators don’t go into these great stories with kids – or do you?”
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