Friday, September 06, 2013

Perspective on Cahokia

My last post was a little dark -- "Die, Marshall!" -- so let's try something else. 

On second thought, this one may not be much cheerier.  We're looking towards an industrial suburb of St. Louis, from the Monk's Mound, the largest Indian structure in what is now the United States.  Monk's Mound was one of dozens of such clay and soil proto-pyramids, built in this case from about 900 AD to 1100 AD.  (How many years would it take you, if you had to build a hundred foot pyramid in hand-woven baskets?) 

One thing that intrigues me about the city and the civilization that grew up around these mounds, was how they resemble Mesoamerican civilizations far to the south.  Corn, beans, and squash seem to have been staples, as further south.  Also, of course, there is the practice of raising mounds.  For another, in Hill 72, the most civilized Indians within what is now the United States practiced human sacrifice, burying some 200 victims here, along with some who died naturally. 

I don't know of a pre-Columbian American culture that reached a high level of civilization in a likable manner, frankly.  (As did China and Japan, under the influence of Confucianism.)   The artistry and lifestyle of Northwest Indians seems more attractive to me, but in some ways they were less advanced, and they also sometimes practiced human sacrifice.  While the germ holocausts that followed the arrival of Europeans was horrific, I have to say, it is probably better for the state of world civilization that the conquerors didn't move east across the Atlantic, instead. 

Well, so much for trying to be cheerful.  I'll try again in a day or two -- best pictures are definitely still to come, at any rate.   

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