Mississippian Mound-Builders c. 900–1450 CE


Map Code: Ax01342

The mound-building cultures of North America appear to have suffered a ‘Dark Age’ roughly contemporaneous with the European version, with the revival beginning in the lower Mississippi valley in the last quarter of the first millennium. This segued into the Plaquemine culture, but was soon be eclipsed by the middle Mississippian culture. The ‘capital’ of this culture, Cahokia, was the largest pre-Columbian city in North America, with a peak population of around 40,000 on a 6-square-mile (15.5-square-km) site also incorporating c. 120 earthen mounds of varying sizes, shapes and functions. The city centred upon the massive, terraced platform Monks Mound and a Grand Plaza. A nearby royal burial mound incorporated an elaborate shell-shrine and hundreds of human sacrifice victims. Other major linked sites range from Moundsville in Alabama, to Angel Mounds in Indiana. The girdling Oneota, Caddoan and Fort Ancient cultures were clearly subject to Middle Mississippian trade and influence.

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