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Other titles in the Penguin's Library of American Indian History series:
Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi (Penguin's Library of American Indian History)by Timothy R Pauketat
Synopses & Reviews
The fascinating story of a lost city and an unprecedented civilization
Almost a thousand years ago, a Native American city flourished along the Mississippi River near what is now St. Louis. Cahokia was a thriving metropolis at its height with a population of twenty thousand, a sprawling central plaza, and scores of spectacular earthen mounds. The city gave rise to a new culture that spread across the plains; yet by 1400 it had been abandoned, leaving only the giant mounds as monuments and traces of its influence in tribes we know today.
In Cahokia, anthropologist Timothy R. Pauketat reveals the story of the city and its people as uncovered by the dramatic digs of American corn-belt archaeologists. These excavations have revealed evidence of a powerful society, including complex celestial timepieces, the remains of feasts big enough to feed thousands, and disturbing signs of large-scale human sacrifice.
Drawing on these pioneering digs and a wealth of analysis by historians and archaeologists, Pauketat provides a comprehensive picture of what's been discovered about Cahokia and how these findings have challenged our perceptions of Native Americans. Cahokia is a lively read and a compelling narrative of prehistoric America.
"Author and anthropologist Pauketat (Chiefdoms and Other Archaeological Delusions) locates a civilizational 'big bang' in the Mississippi River valley of 1050 CE, where 'social life, political organization, religious belief, art, and culture were radically transformed' by a highly ambitious group of American Indians and their capital city, Cahokia, located east of what is now St. Louis. In this illuminating text, Pauketat examines the life, death, and rediscovery of this vast urban population and their game-changing cultural innovations (ranging from innocuous but influential sports like 'chunkey' to large-scale reenactments of mythical stories, featuring bloody human sacrifice). Page by page, Pauketat compiles the fascinating details of a complex archeological puzzle; explaining the study of cross-cultural goddess worship, cave art, hand tools and games, this volume doubles as a crash-course in the archeological method. Pauketat's academic approach responsibly invites opposing viewpoints, and his writing is rich in you-are-there detail, making this an archeological adventure suitable for pre-Columbian enthusiasts as well as inquisitive laymen." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Last year, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained that Illinois' budgetary problems were leading to neglect at Cahokia Mounds, a state park. But as Timothy R. Pauketat's new book makes clear, Cahokia Mounds is not just of state importance (it is also a U.S. World Heritage Site). The great mounds built across the Mississippi River from St. Louis were quite influential, believes Pauketat,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: "The people of this North American city seem to have created their own culture, then proceeded to spread it across the Midwest and into the South and Plains with a religious fervor." In other words, Cahokia was the mother of North American mound mania, whose beginnings go back a thousand years. Mound-building flourished in a culture that made much of the planet Venus, exacted human sacrifice and ate a diet heavy on maize. Some archaeologists believe that there are links between Cahokia and the great civilizations of pre-Columbian Mexico, to which Cahokian residents may well have traveled and from which they may have brought back stories and images that figure in Cahokian mythology, such as "the cult of a Corn Mother or of twin Thunderers." Pauketat's book, which summarizes these and other theories as to what the Cahokia site means, is part of the Penguin Library of American Indian History. Dennis Drabelle is a Washington Post book critic. Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
About one thousand years ago, Native Americans built hundreds of earthen platform mounds, plazas, residential areas, and other types of monuments in the vicinity of present-day St. Louis. This sprawling complex, known to archaeologists as Cahokia, was the dominant cultural, ceremonial, and trade center north of Mexico for centuries. This stimulating collection of essays casts new light on the remarkable accomplishments of Cahokia.
Almost a thousand years ago, a Native American city flourished along the Mississippi River near what is now St. Louis. Anthropologist Pauketat reveals the story of Cahokia, the city and its people, as uncovered by the dramatic digs of American corn-belt archaeologists.
The fascinating story of a lost city and an unprecedented American civilization
While Mayan and Aztec civilizations are widely known and documented, relatively few people are familiar with the largest prehistoric Native American city north of Mexico-a site that expert Timothy Pauketat brings vividly to life in this groundbreaking book. Almost a thousand years ago, a city flourished along the Mississippi River near what is now St. Louis. Built around a sprawling central plaza and known as Cahokia, the site has drawn the attention of generations of archaeologists, whose work produced evidence of complex celestial timepieces, feasts big enough to feed thousands, and disturbing signs of human sacrifice. Drawing on these fascinating finds, Cahokia presents a lively and astonishing narrative of prehistoric America.
About the Author
Timothy R. Pauketat is professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign. His books include Chiefdoms and Other Archaeological Delusions and Ancient Cahokia and the Mississippians.
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