• Paleo-Indian (14,000?) - 8000 BC
• Archaic 8000 - 1000 BC
• Woodland 1000 BC - 800 AD
• Mississippian 800 - 1500 AD
• Early Mississippian 800 - 1150 AD
• Middle Mississippian 1150 - 1350 AD
• Late Mississippian 1350 -1500 AD
A Typical Hamlet
NATIVE AMERICANS 500-1000 A.D.
Populations grew and permanent settlements increased, while
regional adaptations to environmental conditions and specialized
In the Eastern Woodlands, mound groups included residential
areas and were located adjacent to major rivers, and the cultural
pattern subsequently known as Mississippian began, influenced by
trade with Mexico.
By 750 AD, corn was increasingly grown in Midwest and
Southeast river valleys.
By 800 AD, in the central Mississippi region known as the
American bottom, mound centers—some with structures placed
around community plazas—become politically dominant.
By 1000 AD, Mississippian cultural patterns were well
established in the Midwest and Southeast, with population growth,
and economic stability made possible by Maize agriculture and long-
NATIVE AMERICANS 1000-1400 A.D.
Populations grew with political centralization in the Eastern
Woodlands and the Southwest.
The success of food crops, such as maize and beans, allowed
for concentrations of peoples. Settlements enlarged, with individual
centers assuming regional dominance.
Important Mississippian sites in the Southeast such as Cahokia,
IL, Spiro, OK, Moundville, AL, and Etowah, GA, showed clear evidence
of high-ranking inhabitants with many precious objects in their burials.
Cahokia on the Mississippi River floodplain of Illinois expanded,
and over 100 earthen mounds were built for varying purposes.
On the Illinois side of the Mississippi River within sight of St. Louis and
its famous arch, is the largest mound complex in the United States. Called
"Cahokia," this enormous site has more than one hundred mounds and
covers nearly 3,700 acres.
Many of the mounds at Cahokia are gigantic and as large as almost any
mound in Ohio. But Cahokia is dominated by the largest earthen mound in
North America, Monks Mound. It measures 1037 feet from north to
south and 790 feet from east to west. It consists of several terraces
and ramps which take it to a height of 100 feet. The base covers 15
The focal point of this sprawling Mississippian village, Monks Mound,
had several buildings on top 800 years ago. These buildings housed the
elite of the village and from its summit, the chief or king could survey his
realm which covered nearly 6 square miles.
Directly in front of Monks mound was a plaza or court surrounded by
the houses of lesser dignitaries, and around this complex, a stockade of
logs kept out commoners. Cahokia was the largest prehistoric settlement in
The city of Cahokia was inhabited
from 700 AD. to 1400 AD.
From 1100 AD. to 1200 the city
covered almost six miles, with about
The mound builders at Cahokia
Mounds were some of the first intensive
farmers of North America.
The people of Cahokia had political
systems and alliances, and many things
to trade: luxury goods, copper, alligator
teeth, mica, and conch shells, all objects
acquired by hunting and trading.
By the 1400's the city of Cahokia
was abandoned, due to climate, war, or
MONK’S MOUND 1892, NE VIEW
By 1050, The four-terraced
Monks Mound, the largest
earthen structure in the United
States, was under construction
By 1200, Beans were a staple
in the Eastern Woodlands and
VIEW FROM THE WEST are grown together with maize.
CAHOKIA: MONKS MOUND TODAY 950-1300 AD
LARGEST EARTH MOUND IN THE AMERICAS, AND THE LARGEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI
MONK'S MOUND AT CAHOKIA, ILLINOIS, MEASURES 1,000 FEET IN LENGTH, MORE
FEET IN WIDTH, AND IS STILL 100 FEET IN HEIGHT.; ALIGNED WITH THE SUN AT THE
SEE BERLO, P. 81. 22
In the 12th century Cahokia was as large as London. It was the largest city
in America until Philadelphia grew larger in 1800. It was thriving 800
years ago in the heartland of our country. At its center was Monk's
Mound, towering as high as a 10-story building. 37
AROUND 1300 A.D., THE POPULATION OF CAHOKIA DECLINED; A
DEFENSIVE WALL WAS BUILT AT THE SITE'S CENTER.
BY 1350 THE SOUTHERN CULT REACHED ITS PEAK OF INFLUENCE.
SIMILARITIES IN RELIGIOUS PRACTICES AND ART PROLIFERATED
ACROSS THE EASTERN WOODLANDS; WARRIOR, BIRD-MAN, AND
SERPENT IMAGERY WERE AMONG THE VISUAL THEMES.
FACING WEST, WOODHENGE, MARKET, CAHOKIA, IL
WOODHENGE, AN ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY AT CAHOKIA 40
SPIDER GORGET, 1200-1500 A.D.
PILEATED WOODPECKER GORGET
Incised Shell c. 1200 A.D.
1.Worn at the throat of a chief/priest as a CAHOKIA SHELL
2. buried with him/her; 44
3. The cross is a directional symbol.