The Emerald Acropolis: Elevating the moon and water in the rise of Cahokia

Timothy R. Pauketat, Susan M. Alt, Jeffery D. Kruchten

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the mid eleventh century AD, Cahokia emerged as a substantial Mississippian urban centre. To the east, a shrine-complex known as the Emerald Acropolis, marking the beginning of a processional route to the city, also flourished. Excavations and geophysical survey of the monumental landscape around this site suggest that lunar cycles were important in the orientation of structures and settlement layout. They further indicate that water played a significant role in the ritual activities associated with the closure and abandonment of individual structures. The contemporary development of these sites suggests an intrinsic connection between them, and provides early evidence of the importance that the moon and water came to assume in Mississippian culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-222
Number of pages16
Issue number355
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Cahokia
  • Mississippian
  • eleventh century AD
  • lunar cycle
  • water ritual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • General Arts and Humanities


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