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Science
UNEARTHING MYSTERIES
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The Moundbuilders of Cahokia
Tuesday 28 December 2004 11.00-11.30am 

For most of us, American history starts in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Yet before that time, some monumental structures were being built all across the East Coast, up to the Mississippi River, which are little talked about. Aubrey Manning visits Cahokia in Illinois, the site of the biggest earthen structure in North America to find out, who built it and why, and what happened to the societies living there before the Europeans.

Monks Mound

Cahokia, Illinois is a World Heritage Site and lays claim to the biggest man-made earthen structure in North America - Monks Mound. 

The base of this layered mound of earthen clods is larger than that of the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt.  It is part of a 6 mile complex of mounds and plazas from an ancient civilisation.

When the Europeans were discovering America for the first time, they came upon these mounds at Cahokia and had no idea what they were, and who had made them.  Over the last 500 years many have provided theories as to their significance.

Along with the mounds, archaeologists are now finding evidence of a large palisade wall which looks to have been used to defend Monks Mound and the Grand Plaza in front from attack. 
Palisade

However, there's no indication of who could be attacking - and why were they only defending the central part of the site? Why not include the surrounding mounds within the defending walls?

Unearthing Mysteries examines who built these mounds, what they used them for, and why such a significant site came to be abandoned by 1400AD.

Beaverpot found on site
Beaverpot found on site


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