Cahokia: Domination and Ideology in the Mississippian World

By Timothy R. Pauketat; Thomas E. Emerson | Go to book overview

Timothy R. Pauketat and Thomas E. Emerson


13
Conclusion:
Cahokia and the Four Winds

By the fifteenth century A.D., Cahokia had been scattered to the four winds, leaving behind only archaeological traces of the central capital and its surrounding domain, bereft of the human ideas, actions, and interactions that had defined its history. The preceding chapters offer a new synthesis of Cahokia's place in the Mississippian world. Cahokia, to the authors of these chapters, was about agriculture and appropriation, production and power, ideology and authority, and monuments and mobilization. The Cahokian polity has been called a native southeastern chiefdom, with all that this classification implies, but it was also unique in its scale, developmental trajectory, and panregional effect.

More than anything else, the chapters in this volume bespeak a nonstatelevel political, economic, and social behemoth. The great scale of the Cahokian polity, relative to other southeastern chiefdoms, most assuredly was due in part to its location in an expanse of Mississippi River floodplain and to local demographic preconditions (Fowler 1974, 1975; Milner 1990). For Cahokia to have become Cahokia, the resource-mobilization potential of the region must have far exceeded the sum total necessary to provision individual Emergent Mississippian communities. This simple conclusion leads us to a more important insight into Cahokia and the rest of Mississippiandom. Cahokia was more than the remains of the machinations of a few powerful elite rulers who imposed their individual wills upon a preexisting community. Cahokia was community, writ large.

The abrupt, political ascent of Cahokia, as evidenced in Lohmann-phase monument building, craft manufacturing, stylistic homogenization, demo-

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