The Archaeology of the East St. Louis Mound Center: Part I—The Southside Excavations

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The southside excavations cut through the center of the once-impressive East St. Louis mound center. Thought destroyed by archaeologists until the 1991–92 excavations, subsurface archaeological features and the bases of earthen pyramids remain intact below layers of historic fill. Although the southside excavations were limited to a single trench, that trench passed through a portion of the site that appears to have been the location of earthen mounds, special buildings, compound walls, huge marker posts, and miscellaneous pits. The trench was also wide enough to permit measurements of building sizes and to allow observations of the spatial arrangement of mounds, buildings, walls, posts, and pits of various kinds. For these reasons, and despite excavation limitations, the southside features and artifact assemblages give us a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of a Mississippian mound center. Only at the Cahokia site itself has anything comparable been documented in the region (e.g., Tracts 15A and 15B, the Grand Plaza, the East Palisade, and various mounds).

The East St. Louis site—the scene of massive earthmoving projects, giant post emplacements, and public house constructions—was apparently occupied with equal intensity throughout the Stirling phase at the same time that Cahokia was undergoing a similar monumental aggrandizement. So, Cahokia and East St. Louis were occupied and built up at the same time over the course of one century (AD 1100–1200). People in both places were on the receiving end of a regionwide network that, at a minimum, mobilized labor (first) and goods and foodstuffs (second). Accumulations of goods and maize provisions may have been such that special huts were necessary for storage.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationUrbana
PublisherIllinois State Archaeological Survey
Number of pages434
StatePublished - 2005

Publication series

NameISAS Research Reports


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