This listing expired on November 15, 2017. Please contact for any updated information.
US-IL: Cahokia

Location: Collinsville, Illinois, United States

June 4, 2017 to July 8, 2017

Application Deadline: 
Friday, June 2, 2017

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Eastern Connecticut State University, University of Toledo, UCLA, Institute for Field Research

Project Director:

Dr. Sarah E. Baires, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Dr. Melissa R. Baltus, University of Toledo

Project Description

This field school will take place at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois. Cahokia Mounds is located near modern day St. Louis, Missouri, and dates back to the 11th-14th century CE. It is the largest Native American city north of Mexico. Participating students will be a part of a new research project focusing on practices of earth-moving and modification in the creation and organization of social space in an urban environment.  This project targets a residential area between three aboriginal borrow-pit features (places from which soil was taken to build the earthen pyramids in the city). We will be excavating three features: an early residential house, a probable public or special-use building dating to the later part of Cahokia’s occupation, and a reclaimed borrow pit identified during the previous season’s excavations.  The overall project goal is to obtain a better understanding of the importance of earth and practices of earth-moving in a non-mounded landscape as it figures into residential and religious life during Cahokia’s formative years and its decline.

Period(s) of Occupation: Pre Contact Mississippian

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
No experience required.

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will live in comfortable, but modest, field housing in the Shiloh (IL) area at a local apartment complex. Each unfurnished apartment will be shared by up to five people and will have two bedrooms, one kitchen, and one bathroom. Students will be required to bring their own blow up twin-size mattress or cot, bedding (or sleeping bag), and towel(s). The site of Cahokia is located in Collinsville, Illinois a 30-minute drive from the field lodging.

All meals will be communal events and will provide plenty of nutritious but basic food. The daily diet will consist of protein, vegetable, and grains. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, etc.) are difficult to maintain in a large group setting. Vegetarians, however, are more easily accommodated. Likewise, dietary allergies will be accommodated.

All room and board costs are included in tuition.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Number of credits offered 12 UCLA credit units


Contact Information
Institute for Field Research
2999 Overland Ave. #103
Los Angeles
United States
Recommended Bibliography: 

Alt, S., Kruchten, J. and Pauketat T. (2010)  The Construction and Use of Cahokia’s Grand Plaza. Journal of Field Archaeology (35)2: 131-146. 

Anderson, D. (2012)  Monumentality in Eastern North America during the Mississippian Period.  Early New World Monumentality, pgs. 78-108.  Burger, R. and Rosenwig R., eds.  University Press of Florida. 

Baires S. (2015)  The role of water in the emergence of the pre-Columbian Native American City Cahokia.  Wires Water 2: 489-503.

Baires, S., Baltus, M., and Buchannan, M. (2015)  Correlation does not equal causation: Questioning the Great Cahokia Flood.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi/10.1073/pnas.1509104112.

Baltus, M. and Baires S. (2012)  Elements of Ancient Power in the Cahokian world.  Journal of Social Archaeology 12(2): 167-192.

Berry Judson, K. (1913)  How the World Was Made: A Cherokee Legend.  Myths and Legends of the Great Plains pgs., 22-25.  A.C. McClurg. 

Cobb, C. (2003)  Mississippian Chiefdoms: How Complex?  Annual Review of Anthropology.  32:63-84.

Crown, P., Emerson, E., Gu, J., Hurst, J., Pauketat, T., and Ward, T. (2012)  Ritual Black Drink consumption at Cahokia.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi/10.1073/pnas.1208404109.

Demel, S. and R. Hall (1998)  The Mississippian town plan and cultural landscape of Cahokia, Illinois.  Mississippian Towns and Sacred Places, pgs. 200-226.  Lewis, R. and Stout, C., eds.  Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Echo-Hawk, W. (2009)  Under Native American Skies.  Ethnography in the National Park Service 26(3): 58-79.

Emerson, E., Hargrave,E. (2000)  Strangers in Paradise? Recognizing Ethnic Mortuary Diversity on the Fringes of Cahokia.  Southeastern Archaeology 19(1): 1-23.

Howe, L. and Wilson, J. (2015)  Life in a 21st Century Mound City.  The World of Indigenous North America, pgs. 3-25.  Warrior, R., ed.  Routledge. 

Kitt Chappell, S. (2002)  Cahokia: Cosmic Landscape Architecture.  Cahokia: Mirror of the Cosmos, pgs. 51-75.  University of Chicago Press.

Munoz, S., Gruley, K., Massie, A., Fike, D., Schroeder, S., Williams, J. (2015)  Cahokia’s emergence and decline coincided with shifts of flood frequency on the Mississippi River.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi/10.1073/pnas.1501904112.

No author.  No Date.  The Creation Story, An Iroquois Legend.

Pauketat T., S. Alt, J. Kruchten (2015)  City of earth and wood: New Cahokia and its material-historical implications. The Cambridge World History Vol. 3 Early Cities in Comparative Perspective, 4000 BCE-1200 CE, pgs.  437-452.  Yoffee, N., ed.  Cambridge University Press.

Pauketat, T. and Emerson, E. (1991)  The Ideology of Authority and the Power of the Pot.  American Anthropologist 93(4): 919-941.

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