Home Region:  Mississippi Basin (North America)

Cahokia - Emergent Mississippian I

EQ 2020  us_emergent_mississippian_1 / USMisSp

The Sponemann-Collinsville-Loyd Period at Cahokia (750-900 CE) is significant for being a foundational period for later social developments at Cahokia. At this time appears the first signs of warfare, an increase in social complexity and more widespread consumption of farmed crops like maize.
The increase in social complexity was reflected in settlements with houses clustered into court-yard groups. [1] While there is little evidence for warfare in the preceding Middle Woodland [1] from c800 CE there is evidence of inter-group violence as human bones have been recovered with arrow points embedded into them in individual and group burials. [1] Some settlements even gained palisades and ditches [1] , although at this time they were present at only a tiny fraction of all sites (0.5% between 800-950 CE [2] ). After 700-800 CE there was a dramatic intensification of food production, particularly of maize farming, which brought higher yields and enabled more food to be extracted from a smaller territory and would lead to population growth. [1] [3] [4]
The evidence suggests communities experienced increased differentiation of social roles, with individuals dedicated to "community defense, organization of labor, and communal storage of maize in secure central places". [1] The Upper Mississippi region was populated by a number of small communities. The population of largest settlement was probably in the region of 500 people - although this population was not resident at the site that later became Cahokia.

[1]: (Blitz and Porth 2013, 89-95) J H Blitz. E S Porth. 2013. Social complexity and the Bow in the Eastern Woodlands. Evolutionary Anthropology. 22:89-95. Wiley.

[2]: (Milner, Chaplin and Zavodny 2013) G R Milner. G Chaplin. E Zavodny. 2013. Conflict and Societal Change in Late Prehistoric Eastern North America. Evolutionary Anthropology. 22:96-102. Wiley.

[3]: (Iseminger 2010, 26) W R Iseminger. 2010. Cahokia Mounds: America’s First City. The History Press. Charleston.

[4]: (Milner 2006, xx) G R Milner. 2006. The Cahokia Chiefdom: The Archaeology of a Mississippian Society. University Press of Florida. Gainesville.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
15 S  
Original Name:
Cahokia - Emergent Mississippian I  
Alternative Name:
American Bottom  
Emergent Mississippian  
Sponemann Phase  
Collinsville Phase  
Loyd Phase  
Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
900 CE  
Duration:
[750 CE ➜ 900 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none  
Supracultural Entity:
Cahokia - Emergent Mississippian II  
Succeeding Entity:
Merrell-Edlehardt  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
continuity  
Preceding Entity:
Cahokia - Late Woodland III  
Degree of Centralization:
none  
Language
Linguistic Family:
NO_VALUE_ON_WIKI  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[400 to 500] people  
Polity Territory:
[100 to 200] km2  
Polity Population:
[400 to 500] people  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
2  
Religious Level:
2  
Military Level:
-  
Administrative Level:
2  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent  
Professional Priesthood:
absent  
Professional Military Officer:
absent  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
absent  
Merit Promotion:
absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent  
Examination System:
absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent  
Judge:
absent  
Formal Legal Code:
absent  
Court:
absent  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
absent  
Irrigation System:
absent  
Food Storage Site:
inferred absent  
Drinking Water Supply System:
absent  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
inferred absent  
Port:
absent  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
absent  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent  
Script:
absent  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent  
Sacred Text:
absent  
Religious Literature:
absent  
Practical Literature:
absent  
Philosophy:
absent  
Lists Tables and Classification:
absent  
History:
absent  
Fiction:
absent  
Calendar:
absent  
Information / Money
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
absent  
Foreign Coin:
absent  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent  
General Postal Service:
absent  
Courier:
absent  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
present  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
absent  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
absent  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
absent  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
absent  
  Fortified Camp:
absent  
  Earth Rampart:
present  
  Ditch:
present  
  Complex Fortification:
absent  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
absent  
  Iron:
absent  
  Bronze:
absent  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
absent  
  Self Bow:
present  
  Javelin:
absent  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
absent  
  Composite Bow:
absent  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
present  
  Sword:
absent  
  Spear:
absent  
  Polearm:
absent  
  Dagger:
absent  
  Battle Axe:
inferred present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
absent  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
absent  
  Camel:
absent  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
absent  
  Shield:
absent  
  Scaled Armor:
absent  
  Plate Armor:
absent  
  Limb Protection:
absent  
  Leather Cloth:
absent  
  Laminar Armor:
absent  
  Helmet:
absent  
  Chainmail:
absent  
  Breastplate:
absent  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
present  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Cahokia - Emergent Mississippian I (us_emergent_mississippian_1) was in:
 (750 CE 899 CE)   Cahokia
Home NGA: Cahokia

General Variables
Political and Cultural Relations

Supracultural Entity:
Cahokia - Emergent Mississippian II



Preceding Entity:
Cahokia - Late Woodland III


Language

Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[400 to 500] people

Inhabitants.
Population of largest settlement probably in region of 500 people. This is an upper limit estimate. This population was not resident at the site that later became Cahokia. One of the areas with this number of people is called the Range site.


Polity Territory:
[100 to 200] km2

in squared kilometers
Quasi-polities of the American Bottom might cover 100-200 KM2.


Polity Population:
[400 to 500] people

People.
Population of largest settlement probably in region of 500 people and this would be the quasi-polity size. This is an upper limit estimate. This population was not resident at the site that later became Cahokia. One of the areas with this number of people is called the Range site.
After 700-800 CE maize cultivation lead to larger populations. [1]

[1]: (Iseminger 2010, 26) Iseminger, W R. 2010. Cahokia Mounds: America’s First City. The History Press. Charleston.


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
2

levels.
Nucleated villages
"From the Late Woodland Patrick phase through Emergent Mississippian times, communities in the floodplain and immediately adjacent uplands tended to consist of groups of structures. Most people lived in these nucleated villages, each of which was occupied by at least a few tens of people, and sometimes several times that number. Only a small proportion of the valley’s inhabitants lived in houses that were widely separated from one another." [1]
"It has been argued that villages with well over a hundred buildings had developed by the late Emergent Mississippian period." However "it is equally possible that the feature patterns represent nothing more than multiple super-imposed, short-term occupations that cannot be teased apart." [2] [3]
Houses organized around a courtyard
In the Emergent Mississippian "The community pattern usually included organized groupings of houses and other structures arranged around a courtyard, often with a central post that was sometimes surrounded by four pits, and larger structures probably communal or ceremonial, to one side or in the courtyard area." [4]
"Site plans gained greater internal complexity as houses clustered into court-yard groups and, toward [1000 CE], the southern pattern of civic-ceremonial centers with large earthen mounds was established in many places. [5]

[1]: (Milner 2006, 98)

[2]: (Milner 2006, 99 cite: Kelly 1990

[3]: Milner 2006, 99-100)

[4]: (Iseminger 2010, 26) Iseminger, W R. 2010. Cahokia Mounds: America’s First City. The History Press. Charleston.

[5]: (Blitz and Porth 2013, 89-95)


Religious Level:
2

levels.
"At Cahokia there may have been no difference between the religious and political hierarchy. They were interlocked, impossible to disentangle." [1]
1. Chief / Priest
In the Emergent Mississippian period: "perhaps the appearance of chiefs" [2]
"Cahokia may have been led by a priesthood or a group of ruler-priests, but a shift to “king” does not appear to have happened at Cahokia." [3]
2. Elder / Religious functionary
kin group leaders [4]

[1]: (Peregrine/Kelly 2014, 23)

[2]: (Iseminger 2010, 26)

[3]: (Peregrine 2014, 31)

[4]: (Iseminger 2014, 26)


Military Level:
-

levels.
1 or 2. More comfortable at 1 level at this point. Not until Mississippian evidence of warrior specialists.


Administrative Level:
2

levels.
1. Chief
In the Emergent Mississippian period: "perhaps the appearance of chiefs" [1]
2. Elder
kin group leaders [2]

[1]: (Iseminger 2010, 26)

[2]: (Iseminger 2014, 26)


Specialized Buildings: polity owned

There is no evidence for markets, "nothing that would suggest an integrated economy of any kind." [1] "There were probably no markets at Cahokia. Distribution of food and manufactured goods (e.g. shell beads) were likely “event based”, taking place at feasts and rituals. Barter or reciprocal exchange was likely part of an informal economy that circulated goods on a limited basis. Some redistribution of surplus production may have taken place as well." [2]

[1]: (Peregrine 2014, 31)

[2]: (Trubitt 2014, 18)



Food Storage Site:
absent

"Most of the people at Cahokia were self-sufficient, but granaries are present in Stirling/Moorehead Cahokia." [1] "Fluctuation in agricultural production (especially due to flooding) would have affected specific areas of the American Bottom on an almost annual basis, and may have required provisioning some parts of the population on an irregular basis. Granaries and other storage facilities may have held the surplus required for this provisioning." [2] After 700-800 CE maize cultivation lead to larger populations. [3]

[1]: (Peregrine/Trubitt 2014, 20)

[2]: (Trubitt 2014, 18)

[3]: (Iseminger 2010, 26) Iseminger, W R. 2010. Cahokia Mounds: America’s First City. The History Press. Charleston.



Transport Infrastructure

"trail networks also are important, and some of the historic east-west ones cross near Cahokia." [1] Presumably these are frequently used pathways rather than maintained roads.

[1]: (Peregrine/Trubitt 2014, 21)




There were no bridges in prehistoric North America.


Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present

"Large chert cores were roughed out at quarries, not at valley sites." [1] From earliest times people of American bottom were visiting a number of sources. This is not mentioned in current literature. Two examples: Wyandot, in the Ohio river valley and Mill Creek just south of the American bottom.

[1]: (Milner 2006, 82)


Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent

There is no written record for Cahokia. [1]

[1]: (Peregrine 2014, 32)


"There are no inscriptions, images, or even unambiguous houses or burials of political leaders." [1]

[1]: (Peregrine 2014, 31)



Information / Kinds of Written Documents









Information / Money



Article:
present

Exchange-system economy. [1]

[1]: (Milner 2006, 138)


Information / Postal System



Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Wooden Palisade:
present

"Mississippian sites often featured curtain walls with frameworks of stout posts accompanied by large bastions, high embankments, and deep ditches." [1] According to the temporal distribution of "131 walled settlements corresponding to Mississippian societies and their immediate predecessors" the breakout point for increasing percent of sites having palisades is around 900-950 CE. 800-950 CE: 0.5% of sites. 1000 CE: 1.5% of sites. 1050 CE: 3% of sites. 1100 CE: 4% of sites. 1200: 7% of sites. [2]

[1]: (Milner, Chaplin and Zavodny 2013, 100)

[2]: (Milner, Chaplin and Zavodny 2013)




Settlements in a Defensive Position:
absent

Settlements primarily located for access to water and arable land. [1]

[1]: (Peregrine 2014, personal communication)





Earth Rampart:
present

"Mississippian sites often featured curtain walls with frameworks of stout posts accompanied by large bastions, high embankments, and deep ditches." [1]

[1]: (Milner, Chaplin and Zavodny 2013, 100)


"Mississippian sites often featured curtain walls with frameworks of stout posts accompanied by large bastions, high embankments, and deep ditches." [1]

[1]: (Milner, Chaplin and Zavodny 2013, 100)




Projectiles


Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Self Bow:
present

"Beginning A.D. 300-400, the bow replaced the atlatl in most regions" [1] However, not regularly used as a weapon: evidence of victims "struck by arrows and clubs" increased only during "last half of the first millennium" [2] First evidence of intergroup violence appears in the archaeological record after 600 CE. "For the first time, there is evidence, in the form of group and individual burials with embedded arrow points, of the bow as the primary weapon of intergroup violence." [1]

[1]: (Blitz and Porth 2013, 89-95)

[2]: (Milner 2006, 174)


Javelin:
absent

Checked by Peter Peregrine.





Composite Bow:
absent

Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Handheld weapons
War Club:
present

Evidence of victims "struck by arrows and clubs" as inter-group conflicts increased during "last half of the first millennium" [1] Clubs [2]

[1]: (Milner 2006, 174)

[2]: (Iseminger 2010, 78)


Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Handheld thrusting spears absent.


Polearm:
absent

Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Battle Axe:
present

Use of "heavy stone axe or mace". "However, whilst often referred to as a "stone axe" this weapon also could be called a mace or a club. It was a bludgeoning weapon. [1]

[1]: (Iseminger 2010: 78) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/G56KRN8Q.


Armor
Wood Bark Etc:
absent

No evidence for wooden shields. [1]

[1]: (Peregrine 2014, personal communication)





Limb Protection:
absent

Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Leather Cloth:
absent

No evidence for the use of leather as armor. [1]

[1]: (Peregrine 2014, personal communication)



Checked by Peter Peregrine.



Breastplate:
absent

Checked by Peter Peregrine.


Naval technology

Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
present

"Canoes identified so far are small, unable to carry high volumes of commodities." [1]

[1]: (Trubitt 2014, 18)




Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.