Photo from Cahokia Mounds Facebook page
Monks Mound, the largest mound at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
COLLINSVILLE — An expert on studying ancient plants to shed light on the past will speak Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site about discoveries at Native American sites spanning thousands of years.
Dr. Neal Lopinot’s free lecture will focus on research at nine Native American sites in northeastern Missouri along a highway known as the Avenue of the Saints. The sites span several millennia, and comparing how they used particular plants and what changed over time can help fill in details about those cultures.
Lopinot’s love of archaeology began when he grew up in the St. Louis area and collected artifacts around the Illinois towns of Columbia and Dupo. Later, when Lopinot specialized in “archaeobotany,” he studied food production by the Mississippian occupants of Cahokia Mounds.
He is now director of the Center for Archaeological Research at Missouri State University.
The lecture takes place at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the historic site’s Interpretive Center.
Another free lecture takes place March 13. Kristin Hedman of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey will present “Who Were Cahokia’s Immigrants?”
By measuring the element strontium in teeth found at Cahokia Mounds, experts can tell whether a person who lived and died 1,000 years ago was native to the region or immigrated from elsewhere. Her findings suggest at least one-third of Cahokia’s inhabitants were not native to the area.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is eight miles from downtown St. Louis off Interstates 55/70 (Exit 6) and Interstate 255 (Exit 24), on Collinsville Road. The Interpretive Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. There is no admission fee but suggested donations are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2 for students and $15 for families.
For information, call (618) 346-5160 or go to www.cahokiamounds.org.