In the American Midwest, a mysterious location exhibits the ancient ingenuity of the indigenous people of North America. The Cahokia Mounds site stands on the other side of the river from what is now St. Louis. You might feel a tingling sense of anticipation as you approach these ancient mounds. 

It’s not every day you get to wander among the remnants of a civilization lost to time, a culture that once rivaled the grandeur of medieval London or ancient Cairo. But don’t expect towering stone edifices like those of Egypt or Central America. Cahokia Mounds are subtler, more enigmatic, yet equally awe-inspiring.

What to Expect at the Cahokia Mounds Site

Reconstruction of Stockade Wall, Cahokia City of the Sun, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois, United State.
Photo credit: ifood ijourney

The first thing you’ll notice as you enter the site is the sheer scale of it all. Spread across nearly 4,000 acres, the mounds rise from the earth like gentle giants, their slopes cloaked in greenery. Walking among the crumbling ruins, one can almost feel the ancient population rushing about their everyday lives.

One of the most striking features of Cahokia Mounds is Monks Mound, the largest pre-Columbian earthwork in North America. Standing at an impressive 100 feet tall, this mammoth mound showcases the engineering prowess of its builders. As you reach the peak, you’ll be able to take in breathtaking views of the area, which serve as a reminder of how important Cahokia was to the ancient Midwest.

The mounds themselves are just the beginning. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a thriving city surrounding them. The town had plazas, residential areas, and ceremonial structures. As you wander through the ancient streets, you can’t help but wonder what life was like for the people who called Cahokia home.

Myths Surrounding Cahokia

One theory posits that Cahokia was a booming metropolis, a hub of trade and cultural exchange. Evidence of exotic materials from as far away as the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast supports this idea. These suggest that Cahokia was a cosmopolitan center long before Columbus entered the New World. It’s a reminder that history is often more complex than we imagine, with civilizations rising and falling in unexpected places.

Needless to say, you can’t visit Cahokia and not marvel at its most iconic landmark, the “woodhenges.” Like the Stonehenge of Europe, these mysterious structures served as astronomical observatories. They allowed the ancient inhabitants of Cahokia to track the movements of the stars with astonishing precision. As you stand among the weathered remnants of these ancient calendars, you can’t help but feel a sense of connection to those who came before you, gazing up at the same celestial wonders.

But for all its mysteries, Cahokia remains a place of beauty and serenity. The gentle rustle of the wind through the trees, the soft chirping of birds in the distance – it’s easy to lose yourself in the tranquility of this ancient landscape. And yet, beneath the surface lies a wealth of untold stories.