Cahokia Mounds

If you’re looking for history in Illinois, you don’t have to go any farther than Cahokia Mounds. Centuries before European explorers arrived in the Americas, a civilization was thriving on the floodplain of the Mississippi River. Cahokia Mounds Illinois is now an archaeological site that explains the history of the once-bustling city. In 1250 A.D. Cahokia was bigger than London. An interpretive site on the grounds helps visitors to understand the people and civilization that once lived in Cahokia Mounds State Park.

Many visitors don’t know that the largest archaeological site in North America, north of central Mexico, is in Illinois. The people of Cahokia built a sophisticated city, said to be the largest city north of Mexico, and they made advances in the fields of astronomy and agriculture. A rare attraction in the United States, the Cahokia Mounds Historic Site is one of only twenty UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North America.

A visit to Cahokia Mounds will reveal much about the people who lived there. They were skilled builders, and evidence shows them building a variety of structures from utilitarian homes to large, opulent buildings for public purposes. There were public plazas for gathering, and religious symbols suggest a society that believed in a higher power. Archeologists have found indications of the practice of human sacrifice within the civilization, as well as evidence of organized games and sports. A visit to Cahokia Mounds Illinois will leave visitors stunned at what archeologists can interpret from findings centuries later.

When planning a visit to Cahokia Mounds Historic Site, plan ahead for a full day’s visit. From museum exhibitions and theater at the interpretive center to trails, self-guided tours and guided tours outdoors, there is plenty to keep the family occupied for the day. The staff of Cahokia Mounds advises visitors to remember to bring sunscreen, bottled water, and insect repellent. Comfortable clothes, shoes and hats may also maximize your visit. A picnic site is available near the interpretive center, while only snacks and drinks are available for purchase on the grounds. Cahokia Mounds Illinois encourages the use of cameras, especially for children as they learn about this ancient civilization in the heart of America.

The original area of Cahokia Mounds Historic Site covers more than 2,000 acres. Today, more than 800 of these acres are available to the public. For many, the highlight of a visit is climbing the 100-foot Monks Mound. At the top of the mound, visitors will find a reconstructed ancient sun calendar, called Woodhenge. This reconstruction emphasizes the civilization's interest in science and their advancement in the field of astronomy. No reservations are needed for public tours, which take place at 2:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday during the months of April, May, September, and October. During the summer months, these one-hour tours are also available during the week. Self-guided tours with a tape are also available. One of the most important historic sites in Illinois, Cahokia Mounds is sure to leave visitors with a greater knowledge of the native inhabitants of this part of North America.

For visitors who are interested in the history of Illinois, a trip to Cahokia Mounds can easily be combined with a visit to the Lincoln Presidential Library or the state capitol, both of which are in Springfield. As the mounds are only 70 miles from the capital city, it's especially easy for Illinois visitors who have rental cars to take a day trip to this fascinating site.

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