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Fowler Melvin J. The Cahokia atlas: a historical atlas of Cahokia archaeology

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Fowler Melvin J. The Cahokia atlas: a historical atlas of Cahokia archaeology
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 1989. — 300 p.
For centuries, both in historic and prehistoric times, the area now dominated by St. Louis, Missouri, has been a hub of human travel, economic exchange, and political domination of vast areas of the North American continent. St. Louis is on the west bank of the Mississippi River, and just north of the city the Missouri and Illinois rivers enter the Mississippi. These three rivers provide access to most of the north-central portions of North America. Until the coming of the railroads in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the confluence of these rivers formed a center of commerce and exploitation of the west and northwest. Both precolumbian and historic peoples established communities in this central place to take advantage of this location. In recent years an arch has been built on the riverfront to commemorate the fact that for the past 200 years St. Louis has been the gateway to the West.
About 1,000 years ago, however, prehistoric Indians built their own monuments testifying to the importance of the region. Although much that they left behind has been destroyed by two centuries of urban development and agricultural expansion, many of the great earthen mounds they built remain visible today. The centerpiece of their occupation is what archaeologists have called the Cahokia site, now partially preserved in the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site across the Mississippi from St. Louis near Collinsville, Illinois. At Cahokia lived the elite rulers and religious leaders who governed thousands of farmers, hunters, traders, and artisans who populated the vast Mississippi floodplain around the site and who provided the labor to build the monumental earthworks. All were supported by the rich natural resources of the Mississippi River Valley and by the crops they grew, especially corn (maize). The area flourished between about A.D. 1000 and 1400, but like all cultures, the Cahokians eventually succumbed to the forces of history and change, leaving behind their mounds and other remains as evidence of their presence, and leaving it to nineteenth- and twentieth-century archaeologists to write their history and tell their story.
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