Cahokia as a Hierarchical Monistic Modular Polity

A. Martin Byers

in Cahokia

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780813029580
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039183 | DOI:
Cahokia as a Hierarchical Monistic Modular Polity

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This chapter outlines an interpretation of the so-called rural settlement pattern of the Mississippian period recently proposed by Thomas Emerson, in which he clearly characterizes the countryside settlement pattern as a “rural” extension subordinated to the paramount chief seated at Cahokia. In a number of cases, the mound groups are linked with a central plaza or, in some cases, central bodies or associated bodies of water, some of them being manmade borrow pits. It is also implied that those who occupied the central precinct with the dominant Monks Mound, the Grand Plaza, and the surrounding palisade constituted the political, religious, and social apex of Cahokia. The presented summary of Cahokia reinforces the earlier comments that there is a common core of all the versions of the hierarchical monistic modular polity account, whether they fall into the gradualist or the “Big Bang” rupturist category: this commonality is the notion that Cahokia was a political center with associated economic, social, military, and even religious aspects and that these aspects were not simply incidentally related but were functionally subsumed to the political.

Keywords: Cahokia; rural settlement pattern; Mississippian period; Thomas Emerson; Monks Mound; Big Bang

Chapter.  9048 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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