Long before European explorers arrived in the "New Word," North America was home to many thriving societies. In the 12th century, as many as 20,000 people lived in and around an urban center that archaeologists have dubbed "Cahokia," located across the Mississippi River from modern-day St. Louis, Missouri. The city was the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico, and its population rivaled that of many of the European cities of the time, including London. Research shows that many of the people who lived at Cahokia were originally immigrants, possibly traveling from as far away as the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast.
Anyone up for a game of Chunkey?
- Cahokia spanned six square miles (16 square km) and included at least 120 earthen mounds. Today, a portion of the old city -- including Monks Mound -- is a National Historic Landmark.
- Archaeological finds from Cahokia include evidence of an odd game called Chunkey, which involved stone discs. There is also evidence that human sacrifice was part of life in Cahokia.
- The city began to fall into decline after 1200 AD, around the time of a major flood. Much of the city lies buried under 19th- and 20th-century developments.