Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City On The Mississippi

1195 words - 5 pages

Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi, by Timothy R. Pauketat, is on the history, society, and religious customs of the Cahokian people. Consisting of twelve chapters, each chapter deals with a different aspect of Cahokian society. Chapter one opens up by telling the reader how the stars in the sky played an important role in the Native American belief system. The Planet Venus was the key figure in all of this, in fact the ancient Maya believed Venus to be a god. According to the Cahokians , Venus had a dual nature, in the daytime Venus was viewed a masculine, and in the evening it was seen as feminine. In the same chapter, Pauketat lets us know about the discovery of, two hundred packed-earth mounds constructed in a five-square mile zone represented the belief systems of the Cahokian people. Historical archeology was the main reason for the discovery of two hundred earth packed mounds. At its peak, Cahokia had a population of over ten thousand, not including the people who lived in the towns surrounding the city. By the time the 1800s came around, the European Americans had already been living in North America for some time; however, many Europeans refused to acknowledge the Native American role in building these ancient mounds. Instead, they believed the mounds to been built by a race of non-Indians. Due to the preservation of Cahokia within a state park and modern highway system, many things became lost. Since many things became lost, very few archaeologists have a good understanding of Cahokia. While there may be a loss of a complete picture, archaeologists are still making progress with numerous discoveries. These discoveries bring into question long-held beliefs such as a people who were peaceful and mystical.
Pauketat lets the reader know that a “big bang” occurred at Cahokia, now the meaning of the term “big bang” refers to a political and social change, occurring rapidly. This so-called big bang pertains to the political and social issues of the day; furthermore, these two ideas played an important role in the society. In the course of the year, the numerous religious rituals would honor the gods, by honoring the gods, one would expect a good growing season. Some believe that Old Cahokia was the center of a community government many archeologists debated this idea. Archeologists debated this idea, as it would mean that the Cahokia government remained local and ceremonial, in a sense it was a small confederacy of farming villages. Pauketat goes on to explain, “Then again, by this time, people had already begun relocating to Old Cahokia from smaller, less successful villages in the surrounding region. They probably spoke the same language and had the same basic customs as the Old Cahokians.”
Many of the local villages shared in the same customs as the Cahokians, because of the same beliefs one could easily see a centralized city forming. The construction of modern developments, makes it difficult to know...

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