The ISAS Cahokia Project: Rediscovering Ancient Cahokia

Kristin M Hedman, Eve A. Hargrave

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site marks the location of the largest prehistoric mound center in North America and is considered the center of Mississippian culture from ca. A.D. 1050-1350. Archaeological investigations at Cahokia have influenced our interpretations of the social, political and cosmological organization of Mississippian Culture in North America, while burials from Cahokia Mound 72 have featured prominently in early studies of diet, health, demography, and biological relationships. This poster summarizes the history of archaeological investigations and interpretations of Cahokia and highlights results from the ISAS Cahokia Project. The Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) Cahokia Project is a long-term, multi-disciplinary research project that seeks to identify factors that contributed to the rise and fall of the Cahokian polity. Ongoing analyses of both recently excavated and curated human remains from Greater Cahokia, including those associated with Mound 72, offer new information on the health, diet, geographic origins, and genetic relationships of individuals living in, and interacting with, Cahokia. Of particular interest are new details from Mound 72 that impact long held interpretations of social organization and interactions. These include the identification of two male/female paired burials associated with the central beaded cape feature (F101); a previously unknown example of modified teeth within a mass burial (F105); and a more complete isotopic dataset that identifies heterogeneity in diet and place of origin within Cahokia. This project highlights the research potential of older collections, the value in reconsidering long held assumptions, and celebrates the collaborative relationships forged through multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2015


  • ISAS


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