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Lectures at Cahokia Mounds offer updates on research into multiple Midwest civilizations

A series of free lectures at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site will look back at 2,000 years of Native American history, beginning with an update on research into the mound-builders who once lived in the lower Illinois River valley.

The Jan. 15 presentation focuses on the Middle Woodland, or “Hopewellian,” peoples, who built hundreds of earthen mounds between roughly 50 BC and AD 400. Jason King, director of the Center for American Archeology, will discuss the center’s years of research, including remote sensing and recent mound excavations.

King speaks at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center, as will the experts in February and March.

The series continues on Sunday, Feb. 26, with Tamira K. Brennan, coordinator of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey’s American Bottom Field Station. The survey conducted excavations for the relocation of Interstate 70 approaching the new Stan Musial bridge, revealing a massive settlement associated with a huge mound center (second only to Cahokia Mounds) in East St. Louis

The project uncovered more than 6,000 pits, structures, monumental posts and other features dating from about AD 900 to 1250. Brennan will explain what the discoveries reveal about daily life, social and political structures and how East St. Louis, Cahokia and other villages together formed one of North America’s first and largest pre-Columbian cities.

On March 19, two experts will explain research into population shifts at Angel Mounds, a large village and mound center from the Mississippian Culture in southwestern Indiana. Angel Mounds was established as a small ceremonial center around 1100, then boomed to a population of about 1,000 people between 1300 and 1400. It was abandoned soon after as residents dealt with increasing warfare and a sharp change in the climate.

The findings will be presented by G. William Monaghan of the Indiana Geological Survey, Indiana University-Bloomington; and Jeremy J. Wilson from the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is just eight miles from downtown St. Louis, in Collinsville, Illinois, off Interstates 55/70 (Exit 6) and Interstate 255 (Exit 24), on Collinsville Road. The Interpretive Center is open 9 a.m. – 5 .pm. Wednesday through Sunday. There is no admission fee but we do suggest donations of $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2 for students and $15 for families.

For more information call 618-346-5160 or go to