Cahokia wasn't actually a 'lost civilization'
February 5, 2020 | 4 comments
The city's mounds remain a popular tourist attraction. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Skubasteve834
The inhabitants of the pre-Columbian Native American city did disappear for a time, but then they came back.
The vast city, which was once home to the Mississippian indigenous culture, has long been surrounded in mystery and intrigue due to its inhabitants' disappearance in the mid 1300s.
The abandonment of the city - which lasted from around 1450 to 1550 CE - was thought to have been driven by factors such as drought, flooding, climate change and resource shortages.
Now however, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley have shed new light on the enigma by revealing that the city's people may not have actually 'disappeared' at all because they returned to live there again not long afterwards.
It wasn't until the beginning of the 18th Century - long after the arrival of European settlers - that the city's population began to decline again.
The new study involved analyzing the molecular signatures (or stanols) of human faeces in the local sediment. The more stanols they found, the larger the local population would have been.
"It is important to note that the depopulation of Cahokia in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries was not the end of an indigenous presence in the Horseshoe Lake watershed, despite a lack of archaeological evidence and research emphasis on Mississippian occupations," the study authors wrote.
"By acknowledging a repopulation following the Mississippian decline, we move closer to a narrative of native persistence over disappearance."
Source: Science Alert
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