An exhibit at Cahokia Mounds.
COLLINSVILLE — The teeth of people buried at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site offer a glimpse into immigration and social status at the ancient city, and an expert will explain why on March 13.
Dr. Kristin Hedman of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey will present “Who Were Cahokia’s Immigrants? Establishing a Strontium ‘Isoscape’ for the American Midcontinent” at 2 p.m. in the site’s Interpretive Center. The event is free.
Hedman and her colleagues have been measuring the isotope strontium found in teeth at Cahokia Mounds. Because strontium levels naturally differ from place to place, people who grew up in different areas will have varying amounts in their teeth.
The results suggest that at least one-third of Cahokia’s inhabitants were not natives of the area and had immigrated from multiple places. But in the site’s Mound 72, where an important leader was buried along with hundreds of bodies, most of the people appear to have been locals from the American Bottom region.
What does this mean? How confidently can scientists identify someone as a Cahokia native or an immigrant? Where did the immigrants come from, and why? Hedman’s presentation will examine those questions and more.
Hedman is assistant director of the Program on Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is eight miles from downtown St. Louis, off Interstates 55/70 (Exit 6) and Interstate 255 (Exit 24), on Collinsville Road in Collinsville. 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 visit www.cahokiamounds.org.
Cahokia Mounds is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which protects the state’s historic resources. IHPA sites include ancient burial mounds, forts and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.