My husband and I celebrate our tenth anniversary this year and we decided to explore our home state of Illinois and nearby St. Louis. Right here in Illinois is the largest archaeological site in North Amercia north of Mexico City: Cahokia Mounds.
No one knows what happened to the more than 20,000 people who called Cahokia home. They disappeared before European contact. Were they destroyed by a plague? Overuse of natural resources? War?
The mounds look like little more than piles of dirt with plants covering them now, but when they were used as a city, they had buildings on top of them. The largest mound in the center of the complex is ten storeys tall – built by hand, with dirt carried in baskets on the backs of workers. On top of this mound stood a large structure, either a home of the leader or some kind of religious temple. No one knows for sure.
I found the silence of the place chilling. The winds don’t say where the people went. The mystery is there, waiting, silent. Not even the peoples who live there now know what made the Cahokians disappear into the mists of history.