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Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Collinsville, Illinois
(618) 346-5160

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The Ancient Metropolis at Cahokia Mounds
Cahokia Mounds
(L. to R.) Bradley Hayden, Blayke Williams, Reedus Maynor and his dad, Kyrum, observe the life-size exhibits of the Mississippian Culture in the Interpretive Center/Museum at Cahokia Mounds. The group, from Golconda, located in the Shawnee National Forest, was visiting the area to participate in the Koury League's state baseball tournament in Dupo.
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by Betty Magrath
Photos by Bob Moore
© 2000, Southwest Illinois News

The archaeological remnants at Cahokia Mounds, near Collinsville, Illinois, have been preserved to tell the story of the most sophisticated prehistoric Indian civilization north of Mexico. According to the finds, the ancient city of Cahokia, from about A.D. 700 to 1400, covered nearly six square miles. Originally, there were over 120 mounds. Today, about 68 are visible within the 2,200-acre tract.

In 1982, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), designated Cahokia Mounds as a World Heritage Site, for its importance to the understanding of prehistory in North America. Cahokia became a regional center for the Mississippian culture with many surrounding villages. The mounds were constructed principally for ceremonial activities.


Cahokia Mounds
Betty Lou Santel, from New Baden, Illinois, and her son, Daniel, enjoy climbing the newly rebuilt stairs at the Monks Mounds on Collinsville Road.
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Visitors to the site, managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, can explore the life of the prehistoric Mississippian Indians who lived here from about AD 900 to 1400, and built some 120 earthen mounds. It is believed that the population of the city peaked at 20,000 from 1100 A.D. to 1200. The fate of the culture is unknown, although historians attribute a climate change that may have affected crop production, plant and animal resources and possible war, disease and social unrest.

Magnificent 900-pound bronze doors at the entrance to the Interpretive Center are faced with panels designed by Preston Jackson of Peoria, Illinois. The doors depict people, the Stockade, Monks Mound, a falcon and ravens. The Museum features an elaborate display of the Mississippian community with a site model in the main lobby, colorful wall murals, a life-size diorama of Cahokia around A.D. 1200, exhibit islands, archaeology wells and gift shop.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour including the Plaza area, Mound 72, Monks Mound, the Stockade and Woodhenge, a reconstructed sunrise horizon calendar. A 6-mile Nature, Culture hike & Volksmarch trail are also available.

Special programs and family activities are held year-round including storytelling, Indian Art Shows, Archaeology Day, lectures and educational programs, Indian craft and tool demonstrations, equinox and solstice sunrise observances. Picnic areas, playgrounds, and restrooms are available. The Center is open 9 am to 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday, and closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
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Information courtesy of Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site

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