Revealing greater Cahokia, North America's first native city: rediscovery and large-scale excavations of the East St. Louis Precinct

Thomas E. Emerson, Brad Koldehoff, Tamira K. Brennan, Illinois Department of Transportation

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingTechnical report


The detailed analysis and full interpretation of the thousands of features and well over a million artifacts recovered from the ISAS–IDOT excavations in the East St. Louis Precinct will be a decades-long process and will require the ongoing efforts of numerous archaeologists and specialists. Yet the sheer magnitude of the excavations and the unique discoveries required that we make the basic synopsis of the excavation results available both to Eastern Woodlands scholars interested in the development of regional complexity and colleagues interested in early urbanization on an international scale. It is also important that these amazing discoveries be made available to the general public. Even if that extensive data is presented here in a summary fashion, these chapters are built on a foundation of data-rich volumes currently in production.

We are also driven by the dire situation that the remaining 96% of the East St. Louis Precinct and the majority of Greater Cahokia face imminent destruction, existing as they do within an area of increasing urban redevelopment. Only through an economic fluke that saw the collapse of the East St. Louis business infrastructure in the mid-twentieth century was most of the pre-Columbian history of this buried native city preserved. The period of economic stagnation has ended with the construction of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. Greater Cahokia is in increasing danger of total destruction. It is imperative that this buried historic treasure be brought to the attention of the state, the country, and the world. It is the crown jewel of Native American political, social, and religious achievement—it deserves rescue, protection, preservation, and interpretation. We are hopeful that the information and insights presented in this volume will help demonstrate the cultural significance of Greater Cahokia in general and ancient East St. Louis in particular and, in turn, will foster greater appreciation and further preservation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationUrbana, IL
PublisherIllinois State Archaeological Survey
Number of pages568
ISBN (Print)978-1-930487-55-0
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameISAS Studies in Archaeology


  • ISAS


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