Log In | Account Info
Cart | Checkout
Cahokia and the Archaeology of Power, Cahokia and the Archaology of Power, 0817308881, 0-8173-0888-1, 978-0-8173-0888-9, 9780817308889, , , Cahokia and the Archaology of Power, 0817383654, 0-8173-8365-4, 978-0-8173-8365-7, 9780817383657,

Cahokia and the Archaeology of Power
Thomas E. Emerson

Quality Paper
1997. 318 pp.
Price:  $37.95 s
E Book
2010. 318 pp.
Price:  $37.95 d

This study uses the theoretical concepts of agency, power, and ideology to explore the development of cultural complexity within the hierarchically organized Cahokia Middle Mississippian society of the American Bottom from the 11th to the 13th centuries. By scrutinizing the available archaeological settlement and symbolic evidence, Emerson demonstrates that many sites previously identified as farmsteads were actually nodal centers with specialized political, religious, and economic functions integrated into a centralized administrative organization. These centers consolidated the symbolism of such 'artifacts of power' as figurines, ritual vessels, and sacred plants into a rural cult that marked the expropriation of the cosmos as part of the increasing power of the Cahokian rulers.

During the height of Cahokian centralized power, it is argued, the elites had convinced their subjects that they ruled both the physical and the spiritual worlds. Emerson concludes that Cahokian complexity differs significantly in degree and form from previously studied Eastern Woodlands chiefdoms and opens new discussion about the role of rural support for the Cahokian ceremonial center.


Thomas E. Emerson is Director of the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.



"In this striking integration of iconographic analysis with settlement pattern studies, Emerson produces a new reading of power relations in the area dominated by Cahokia chiefs. Unlike some other researchers, he seesevidence of strong, direct, administrative control over the rural population by functionaries appointed by the Cahokia paramount chief, a control legitimizedby the elite appropriation of a centuries-old, popular fertility cult. This view, and the analytic approach from which it emerges, will be embraced by some and received quizzically by others, but it is food for thoughtthat anyone studying nonstate, hierarchical societies should attempt to digest."
—Paul D. Welch, Queens College

"An important contribution to the literature of Cahokia and the ongoing debates over chiefly societies in general. It joins a group of major studies that offer contrasting perspectives on the organizational character of Mississippian societies and how one defines them archaeologically."
American Antiquity

Also of Interest

Cahokia Mounds
Warren King Moorehead, edited and with an introduction by John E. Kelly

Louisiana and Arkansas Expeditions of Clarence Blo
Clarence Bloomfield Moore

Protecting Heritage in the Caribbean
Edited by Peter E. Siegel, Elizabeth Righter