Illinois Style: Much still to be learned about Cahokia Mounds





It's so much a part of the landscape that metro-east residents often don't even notice it, except when a visiting relative notices: 'Look, there's the mound.'

Rising from what once was an endless grass sea parted by the Mississippi River, Monks Mound isn't even named after the Native American Indians who built it centuries ago, but the Trappist monks who lived there for only five years in the 19th century.

No one knows what the long-vanished people who built the mounds called themselves, much less what they named their terraced mound. Archaeologists call them the Mississippians, and their lives continue to be a mystery whose clues are buried in the mounds scattered throughout the metro-east and far beyond.

During the last three decades, the main part of the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site _ what once was 'downtown' for the largest prehistoric settlement on the continent _ has been dubbed a World Heritage Site and turned into a tourist attraction and center for prehistoric research.



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