Photo from Cahokia Mounds Facebook page
Monks Mound, the largest mound at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
COLLINSVILLE — A series of lectures at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site begins Sunday, Jan. 25, with a look at the natural disasters that shape societies and leave marks in the archaeological record.
Presentations in February and March will explore the religion of the people who built Cahokia Mounds and how their designs were influenced by studying the stars and the moon.
The free lectures kick off at 2 p.m. Jan. 25 with Gregory Vogel discussing “The Archaeology of Disaster.” Fire, flood, famine, earthquake — all major disasters leave distinctive signatures in the archaeological record. Those events influenced where and how Native Americans lived. Even today, people are adapting to long-ago disasters, like the New Madrid quakes of 1811-12 that changed the course of the Mississippi River.
Vogel, former research director at the Center for American Archaeology, teaches at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He is a presenter through the Road Scholars program of the Illinois Humanities Council.
The lecture series continues Sunday, Feb. 22, with “Discovering Cahokia’s Religion.” Susan Alt of Indiana University will discuss evidence of a new religion at Cahokia Mounds that drew pilgrims from great distances and made it North America’s first true city.
On March 22, William Romain presents “Ancient Skywatchers of the Eastern Woodlands,” a look at the 5,000-year-old tradition of Native American skywatching. Romain documents celestial alignments of site, including the great city of Cahokia.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is just eight miles from downtown St. Louis, in Collinsville, off Interstates 55/70 (Exit 6) and Interstate 255 (Exit 24), on Collinsville Road. The Interpretive Center is open 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.