The Role of Maize in Cahokia’s Big Bang

Mary L. Simon, Kristin M. Hedman, Thomas E. Emerson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Interpreting the role of maize agriculture in the socio-economic-religious systems of Cahokia has long been a topic of research interest. Early “prime-mover” models emphasized maize’s economic importance. Through time, these models shifted to emphasize the crop’s centuries long role in subsistence and ritual, positing a gradualist introduction, adoption, and dependence. However, the increasing number of excavated sites, associated macrobotanical data sets, and isotopic analyses by ISAS researchers have called into question the gradualist model. These lines of evidence converge to suggest that maize was a post-AD 900 introduction that facilitated, but did not cause, Cahokia’s Big Bang.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication59th Annual Midwest Archaeological Conference
StatePublished - 2015


  • ISAS


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