The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Session 6. Cahokia: Biological Evidence of Impacts and Interactions. Invited Poster Symposium. Chair: Kristin M. Hedman

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 3 Add to calendar

Located across the river from modern-day St. Louis, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site marks the location of the largest prehistoric mound center in North America and the epicenter of Mississippian culture from A.D. 1050-1350.  At its peak, Greater Cahokia (including Cahokia, East St. Louis and St. Louis ceremonial precincts) covered 10-15 sq km.  Greater Cahokia was comprised of nearly 200 earthen mounds arranged around vast open plazas, with thousands of houses, temples and public buildings laid out in planned residential, political and ritual precincts.  Population estimates for Greater Cahokia are as high as 20,000+ individuals and reflect the rapid consolidation of outlying communities and an influx of immigrants.  Cahokia’s power and influence flourished through the 12th and 13th centuries with archaeological evidence of an extensive interaction sphere extending from the Gulf Coast and Southeast, the Caddoan region to the south, through the Upper Mississippi River valley and the Great Lakes region. 


The bioarchaeology and political complexity of Cahokia is based largely on early analyses of the over 270+ individuals interred in Cahokia’s Mound 72.  These mortuary practices with their ritually elaborate burial events and human sacrifice have been considered as paradigmatic of a proto-urban, hierarchically organized polity. However, extensive excavations at the East St. Louis Mound center, and a comprehensive reanalysis of long neglected collections have given researchers a new perspective on Mississippian lifeways in the American Bottom. Recent osteological, isotopic and DNA studies focusing on inter- and intra-regional interaction provides new insight into the health, diet, geographic and biological origin of people occupying the midcontinent during the Mississippian period and revise our understanding of the rise and fall of the Cahokia polity.  

Discussion: George R. Milner
1 Add to calendar The ISAS Cahokia Project: Rediscovering Ancient Cahokia . Kristin M. Hedman, Eve A. Hargrave.
2 Add to calendar Assessing the Role of Migration in Cahokia’s Population using Strontium Isotope Analysis. Philip A. Slater.
3 Add to calendar Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of early mississippian diet at cahokia mound 72. Matthew A. Fort, Kristin M. Hedman, Stanley H. Ambrose.
4 Add to calendar Early Mississippian Health: Skeletal evidence from the East St. Louis Mound Center. Katherine McDonald, Lenna Nash, Aimee Carbaugh.
5 Add to calendar Post-mortem processing and mass burials at Wilson Mound, Cahokia. Sarah E. Baires.
6 Add to calendar Ear removal: Skeletal evidence for trophy taking in the prehistoric Mississippian Midwest. Aimee Carbaugh, Katie Zejdlik.
7 Add to calendar Human Sacrifice in the Late Prehistoric American Bottom: Skeletal and Archaeological Evidence. Lenna M. Nash, Eve Hargrave.
8 Add to calendar Politics as usual in west-central Illinois? Warfare and violence during the Mississippian Period at Cahokia and beyond. Mallorie A. Hatch, Susan D. Spencer, Eve A. Hargrave.
9 Add to calendar Mitochondrial aDNA characterization of Cahokia Mound 72. Jessica L. Harrison, Lisa Coss, Frederika A. Kaestle.
10 Add to calendar Complete Mitogenome Sequencing of Late Woodland domesticated dogs from Janey B. Goode. Kelsey E. Witt, Ripan S. Malhi.