The investigations at East St. Louis conducted by Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) for the New Mississippi River Bridge (NMRB) project provided an unprecedented amount of information concerning Terminal Late Woodland (TLW) habitation in the American Bottom. Prior to the NMRB project, the ideas concerning this time period in Illinois history developed from a handful of excavations conducted at Cahokia and at multiple sites as part of the FAI-270 project. The data presented here demonstrate that East St. Louis was an important place before the Mississippian period, beginning with the initial TLW I occupation when only a few families settled near Cahokia Creek. From these humble beginnings, a village flourished and ultimately was composed of hundreds of people living in a dense concentration of courtyard groups. Residents of some courtyard groups were more intimately connected with nonlocal people or included artisans who produced specialized pottery, fiber, or other goods. Within a few short decades, this village became one precinct of an expansive Mississippian city. The insights gained from the East St. Louis Precinct investigations reported here and in other volumes in this series have transformed our understanding of the dynamic interactions that resulted in this early urbanization and add greatly to our understanding of Terminal Late Woodland and Mississippian history in the region.
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