USMisSd

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Phase I Variables (polity-based)

General variables

♠ RA ♣ Edward A L Turner ♥

♠ Original name ♣ Cahokia - Sand Prairie ♥

♠ Alternative names ♣ City Mounds; Cahokia Mounds; American Bottom; Sand Prairie Phase ♥

♠ Peak Date ♣ ♥


Temporal bounds

♠ Duration ♣ 1275-1400 CE ♥


"The people that were a part of Cahokia made a conscious decision not to continue after ca. A.D. 1250." [1] "We know that by the mid-300s Cahokia was basically abandoned." [2]

♠ Degree of centralization ♣ loose ♥

"The people that were a part of Cahokia made a conscious decision not to continue after ca. A.D. 1250." [3] "We know that by the mid-300s Cahokia was basically abandoned." [4]

♠ Supra-polity relations ♣ none ♥

Supra-cultural relations

♠ preceding (quasi)polity ♣ Cahokia - Moorehead ♥
♠ relationship to preceding (quasi)polity ♣ Continuity ♥
♠ succeeding (quasi)polity ♣ Oneota ♥
♠ Supracultural entity ♣ Middle Mississippian ♥
♠ scale of supra-cultural interaction ♣ 125,000-150,000 ♥ km squared. Cultural diffusion. Number refers to the estimated area of the Middle Mississippi region (taken from the map).

♠ Capital ♣ ♥


♠ Language ♣ ♥ "Cahokia was made up of different ethnic groups, perhaps even different linguistic groups."[5] However Cahokia did not exist in this period: "The people that were a part of Cahokia made a conscious decision not to continue after ca. A.D. 1250." [6] "We know that by the mid-300s Cahokia was basically abandoned." [7]

General Description

The Sand Prairie phase is the name given by archaeologists to the period between around 1275 and 1400 CE in the American Bottom region, the portion of the floodplain of the Mississippi now located in southwestern Illinois.[8][9] This period is considered the final phase of the Mississippian culture.[10] The chronology is not universally agreed upon, however: the dates given by different scholars for the Sand Prairie phase vary.[11]

Population and political organization

The Sand Prairie phase was one of decreasing social complexity and depopulation at the site of Cahokia and on the surrounding Middle Mississippi floodplain.[12] Already by 1150 CE, archaeological evidence indicates that the political and ceremonial ties binding the site of Cahokia and its elite to its hinterland were weakening, and by 1350, there are very few signs of culturally Mississippian populations left in the American Bottom.[13] During the Sand Prairie phase, Mississippians seem to have abandoned the old monumental sites and dispersed out of the river valley into the uplands.[14] The evidence for political hierarchies and inherited status distinctions is much weaker than for previous periods, and community activity may have revolved around funerary rites at rural cemeteries.[15]
The population of the site of Cahokia and the surrounding Mississippi floodplain reached its lowest point for several centuries during this period.[16][17] Concrete population estimates are difficult to find, but archaeologist George Milner has estimated a Sand Prairie-period population density of between one and seven people per square kilometre for a stretch of the Mississippi floodplain just south of Cahokia.[18]

Social Complexity variables

♠ RA ♣ Edward A L Turner; Kalin Bullman ♥

Social Scale

♠ Polity territory ♣ [500-1,000] ♥ in squared kilometers

"We know that by the mid-300s Cahokia was basically abandoned." [19]

"Eric Rupley, however, calculated the catchment needed to feed 15,000 people would be 625 square kilometers, which is well within the possible land area available in the American Bottom."[20]

"The Cahokia heartland is about 2000 to 3000 square kilometers" [21]

"“central administrative complex” (CAG) and was roughly 14 square kilometers in area."[22]

♠ Polity Population ♣ [12,000-15,000] ♥ People.

Milner estimates the American Bottom population ("population figures for Cahokia were doubled to approximate the inhabitants of all mound centers and added to valley-wide estimates for small settlements") in the Sand Prairie phase had fallen about 75% from the Stirling peak. [23] Which was:

"It is likely that at least 50,000 people lived within the 2000 square kilometer “greater Cahokia” region at its height (ca. A.D. 1100)."[24]
"George Milner estimates that there were roughly 8000 people in the Cahokia central administrative complex and up to 50,000 in the greater Cahokia region after AD 1050. Before that the neither had large populations—perhaps less than 1000 people in the entire greater Cahokia region." However: "With new excavations at East St. Louis the estimate for the central administrative complex needs to be increased to something like 15,000."[25]


♠ Population of the largest settlement ♣ [5,000-7,000] ♥ Inhabitants. Cahokia.

Milner estimates that by the Sand Prairie phase the Cahokia (i.e. city) population had fallen about 66% from the Lohmann peak. [26] which was:

"At its height (ca. A.D. 1100) the central administrative complex at Cahokia contained at least 15,000 residents though this high population was very short lived (probably less than 100 years)."[27]


Hierarchical Complexity

♠ Settlement hierarchy ♣ 3 ♥ levels.

Down to 3 levels of settlement.

1. Hamlets (5 houses at most)

2. Hamlet integration site (single mound site).

3. Multi-mound centers (3 of these left in this period)


♠ Administrative levels ♣ 3 ♥ levels.


1. Chief / Priest

"Members of the highest social strata probably included chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, priests, and other religious functionaries." [28]
"Cahokia may have been led by a priesthood or a group of ruler-priests, but a shift to “king” does not appear to have happened at Cahokia."[29]
"The central administrative complex represents the core of the Cahokian polity. The location of ridgetop mounds within this area may equate with kin groupings or other administrative units. East St. Louis, being newer, may have been a higher status community of isolated elites."[30]
At Mound 72 "Analysis of the skeletal remains shows that certain burial groups were of higher status than others and that some may have come prom places other than Cahokia." [31]


2. Sub-chief / Sub-priest?

"Members of the highest social strata probably included chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, priests, and other religious functionaries." [32]
"The answers provided by the working group seem to point to Cahokia being an urban settlement that was the center of a regional government, but the picture is not entirely clear." [33]
"Regional political integration appears to have been an essentially ritual one; that is, the site hierarchy that is present appears to be more of a hierarchy of ritual spaces than of political jurisdictions."[34]
"Cahokia was also the center of a regional government of some kind, at least for a short period of time."[35]
"mound complexes may have been organized around sodalities rather than around kin groups. Perhaps these sodalities were secret societies"[36]
"Mound and plaza groups may represent corporate (perhaps kin-based) political and

ritual complexes, each of which would have been maintained by their own administrative specialists or generalized leader."[37]


3. Elder / Religious functionary

"Members of the highest social strata probably included chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, priests, and other religious functionaries." [38]
kin group leaders [39]


♠ Religious levels ♣ 3 ♥ levels.

"At Cahokia there may have been no difference between the religious and political hierarchy. They were interlocked, impossible to disentangle."[40]


1. Chief / Priest

"Members of the highest social strata probably included chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, priests, and other religious functionaries." [41]
"Cahokia may have been led by a priesthood or a group of ruler-priests, but a shift to “king” does not appear to have happened at Cahokia."[42]
"The central administrative complex represents the core of the Cahokian polity. The location of ridgetop mounds within this area may equate with kin groupings or other administrative units. East St. Louis, being newer, may have been a higher status community of isolated elites."[43]
At Mound 72 "Analysis of the skeletal remains shows that certain burial groups were of higher status than others and that some may have come prom places other than Cahokia." [44]
"Ridge top mounds may also reflect ritual performances or “tableaus” associated with these mound and plaza complexes. In this control of ritual activity there may have also have been specialists in maintaining and performing specific rituals at various community levels."[45]


2. Sub-chief / Sub-priest?

"Members of the highest social strata probably included chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, priests, and other religious functionaries." [46]
"The answers provided by the working group seem to point to Cahokia being an urban settlement that was the center of a regional government, but the picture is not entirely clear." [47]
"Regional political integration appears to have been an essentially ritual one; that is, the site hierarchy that is present appears to be more of a hierarchy of ritual spaces than of political jurisdictions."[48]
"Cahokia was also the center of a regional government of some kind, at least for a short period of time."[49]
"mound complexes may have been organized around sodalities rather than around kin groups. Perhaps these sodalities were secret societies"[50]
"Mound and plaza groups may represent corporate (perhaps kin-based) political and

ritual complexes, each of which would have been maintained by their own administrative specialists or generalized leader."[51]

"priests, and other religious functionaries." [52]


3. Elder / Religious functionary

"Members of the highest social strata probably included chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, priests, and other religious functionaries." [53]
kin group leaders [54]
"lower-level religious functionaries" [55]


♠ Military levels ♣ 2 ♥ levels.


Professions

♠ Professional military officers ♣ ♥ Iconography may indicate professional officers or soldiers of some kind. People that look like they are wielding weapons with head scalps attached to belts. Depictions of people who look like they are going to and from battle.

♠ Professional soldiers ♣ ♥ Iconography may indicate professional officers or soldiers of some kind. People that look like they are wielding weapons with head scalps attached to belts. Depictions of people who look like they are going to and from battle.

♠ Professional priesthood ♣ present ♥ "Those who planned and organized the construction of the Cahokian cosmographical landscape can be interpreted as being religious specialists."[56]

Bureaucracy characteristics

♠ Full-time bureaucrats ♣ inferred absent ♥ 'The break with the complex, rural Stirling phase [c. 1050-1150 CE] bureaucratic structure was total and complete - in an archaeological instance all the specialized facilities and elites disappeared'.[57] Moreover, 'Current data suggest that this was a period of minimal activity at the site of Cahokia. Mantles may have been added to some of the mounds, but there is little evidence of elite activity at the site.'[58] The Sand Prairie phase was one of disintegration and decline at Cahokia. Emerson describes the results of archaeological excavations of Sand Prairie sites in the American Bottom region: 'Sand Prairie phase sites showed no evidence for political activities of either a community-centered or elite nature; instead, the focus was on community-centered mortuary ceremonialism'.[59] The overall pattern is one of 'social segmentation and community autonomy'.[60]

♠ Examination system ♣ ♥

♠ Merit promotion ♣ ♥

♠ Specialized government buildings ♣ inferred absent ♥ 'The break with the complex, rural Stirling phase [c. 1050-1150 CE] bureaucratic structure was total and complete - in an archaeological instance all the specialized facilities and elites disappeared'.[61] Moreover, 'Current data suggest that this was a period of minimal activity at the site of Cahokia. Mantles may have been added to some of the mounds, but there is little evidence of elite activity at the site.'[62] The Sand Prairie phase was one of disintegration and decline at Cahokia. Emerson describes the results of archaeological excavations of Sand Prairie sites in the American Bottom region: 'Sand Prairie phase sites showed no evidence for political activities of either a community-centered or elite nature; instead, the focus was on community-centered mortuary ceremonialism'.[63] The overall pattern is one of 'social segmentation and community autonomy'.[64]

Law

♠ Formal legal code ♣ unknown ♥ "formal adjudication structures were also present, but it is not clear what these might have been."[65]

♠ Judges ♣ unknown ♥

♠ Courts ♣ unknown ♥

♠ Professional Lawyers ♣ absent ♥

Specialized Buildings: polity owned

♠ irrigation systems ♣ absent ♥ "There is evidence of maize pollen in swales, and some drainage and irrigation facilities." [66] However, there were "no irrigation systems evident at Cahokia."[67]
♠ drinking water supply systems ♣ absent ♥
♠ markets ♣ absent ♥ There is no evidence for markets, "nothing that would suggest an integrated economy of any kind."[68] "There were probably no markets at Cahokia. Distribution of food and manufactured goods (e.g. shell beads) were likely “event based”, taking place at feasts and rituals. Barter or reciprocal exchange was likely part of an informal economy that circulated goods on a limited basis. Some redistribution of surplus production may have taken place as well." [69]
♠ food storage sites ♣ inferred present ♥ "Most of the people at Cahokia were self-sufficient, but granaries are present in Stirling/Moorehead Cahokia."[70] "Fluctuation in agricultural production (especially due to flooding) would have affected specific areas of the American Bottom on an almost annual basis, and may have required provisioning some parts of the population on an irregular basis. Granaries and other storage facilities may have held the surplus required for this provisioning."[71]


Transport infrastructure

♠ Roads ♣ present ♥ [72] "Roadways link external centers to Cahokia providing a physical connection between them."[73] "LiDAR helped to identify a causeway 25m wide from Monks Mound to Rattlesnake Mound." [74] "trail networks also are important, and some of the historic east-west ones cross near Cahokia."[75] "Emerald, for example, was out on the prairie, and may have been a pilgrimage site, as roadways connected it to Cahokia and to the Southeast."[76]
♠ Bridges ♣ absent ♥ There were no bridges in prehistoric North America.
♠ Canals ♣ absent ♥
♠ Ports ♣ absent ♥ "There was geographically widespread trade between Cahokia and other communities (and between those other communities themselves) especially along the Mississippi. However, this trade appears to have been low volume, with only small amounts being exchanged at any given time. Canoes identified so far are small, unable to carry high volumes of commodities. There is no evidence for centralized control of this exchange, except perhaps for high-status goods and exceptional ritual objects." [77]"[78]

Special purpose sites

♠ Mines or quarries ♣ present ♥ "Large chert cores were roughed out at quarries, not at valley sites." [79] From earliest times people of American bottom were visiting a number of sources. This is not mentioned in current literature. Two examples: Wyandot, in the Ohio river valley and Mill Creek just south of the American bottom.

Information

Writing System

♠ Mnemonic devices ♣ ♥
♠ Nonwritten records ♣ ♥
♠ Written records ♣ absent ♥ There is no written record for Cahokia.[80]
♠ Script ♣ absent ♥ "There are no inscriptions, images, or even unambiguous houses or burials of political leaders."[81]
♠ Phonetic alphabetic writing ♣ absent ♥

Kinds of Written Documents

♠ Lists, tables, and classifications ♣ absent ♥
♠ Calendar ♣ absent ♥
♠ Sacred Texts ♣ absent ♥
♠ Religious literature ♣ absent ♥
♠ Practical literature ♣ absent ♥
♠ History ♣ absent ♥
♠ Philosophy ♣ absent ♥
♠ Scientific literature ♣ absent ♥
♠ Fiction ♣ absent ♥


Money

♠ Articles ♣ present ♥ Exchange-system economy. [82]
♠ Tokens ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Shell beads may have been tokens of exchange.
♠ Precious metals ♣ absent ♥
♠ Foreign coins ♣ absent ♥
♠ Indigenous coins ♣ absent ♥
♠ Paper currency ♣ absent ♥

Postal System

♠ Couriers ♣ ♥
♠ Postal stations ♣ absent ♥
♠ General postal service ♣ absent ♥

Warfare variables

♠ RA ♣ Edward A L Turner; Kalin Bullman ♥

Military Technologies

Military use of Metals

♠ Copper ♣ ♥
♠ Bronze ♣ absent ♥
♠ Iron ♣ absent ♥
♠ Steel ♣ absent ♥

Projectiles

♠ Javelins ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Atlatl ♣ absent ♥
♠ Slings ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Self bow ♣ present ♥ Arrow points from at least c600 CE. [83] "Projectile points thought to be from arrows were common by the Patrick phase, having been introduced earlier in Late Woodland times. The timing of their appearance coincides roughly with the earliest widespread use of the bow-and-arrow throughout eastern North America." [84] "bow and arrow introduced sometime around AD 400" [85]
♠ Composite bow ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Crossbow ♣ absent ♥
♠ Tension siege engines ♣ absent ♥
♠ Sling siege engines ♣ absent ♥
♠ Gunpowder siege artillery ♣ absent ♥
♠ Handheld firearms ♣ absent ♥

Handheld weapons

♠ War clubs ♣ present ♥ Evidence of victims "struck by arrows and clubs" as inter-group conflicts increased during "last half of the first millennium" [86] Clubs [87]
♠ Battle axes ♣ present ♥ "heavy stone axe or mace" [88] However, whilst often referred to as a "stone axe" this weapon also could be called a mace or a club. It was a bludgeoning weapon.
♠ Daggers ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Swords ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Spears ♣ absent ♥ Handheld thrusting spears absent.
♠ Polearms ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.

Animals used in warfare

♠ Dogs ♣ ♥
♠ Donkeys ♣ absent ♥
♠ Horses ♣ absent ♥
♠ Camels ♣ absent ♥
♠ Elephants ♣ absent ♥

Armor

♠ Wood, bark, etc ♣ absent ♥ No evidence for wooden shields. [89]
♠ Leather, cloth ♣ absent ♥ No evidence for the use of leather as armor. [90]
♠ Shields ♣ absent ♥
♠ Helmets ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Breastplates ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Limb protection ♣ absent ♥ Checked by Peter Peregrine.
♠ Chainmail ♣ absent ♥
♠ Scaled armor ♣ absent ♥
♠ Laminar armor ♣ absent ♥
♠ Plate armor ♣ absent ♥

Naval technology

♠ Small vessels (canoes, etc) ♣ present ♥ "Canoes identified so far are small, unable to carry high volumes of commodities."[91]
♠ Merchant ships pressed into service ♣ absent ♥
♠ Specialized military vessels ♣ absent ♥

Fortifications

♠ Settlements in a defensive position ♣ absent ♥ Settlements primarily located for access to water and arable land. [92]
♠ Wooden palisades ♣ present ♥ "The main mound and plaza region of Cahokia was palisaded after ca. A.D. 1200, also indicating a high level of violence."[93] "After about A.D. 1100 there is an increase in numbers of palisaded sites (they were present earlier at Toltec)." [94]
♠ Earth ramparts ♣ absent ♥
♠ Ditch ♣ absent ♥
♠ Moat ♣ absent ♥
♠ Stone walls (non-mortared) ♣ absent ♥
♠ Stone walls (mortared) ♣ absent ♥
♠ Fortified camps ♣ absent ♥
♠ Complex fortifications ♣ absent ♥
♠ Long walls ♣ 0 ♥ km.
♠ Modern fortifications ♣ absent ♥


Phase II Variables (polity-based)

Institutional Variables

♠ RA ♣ Jenny Reddish ♥

The Sand Prairie phase was one of disintegration and decline at Cahokia. Emerson writes of the 1275-1350 CE period: 'Current data suggest that this was a period of minimal activity at the site of Cahokia. Mantles may have been added to some of the mounds, but there is little evidence of elite activity at the site. Evidence for the presence of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC), or at least contact with groups who practiced it, is indicated by the find of a sandstone tablet with a falcon(?) dancer on it, associated with the east lobe of Monks Mound (Williams 1972: 75-77, figure 7). Evidence for the presence of SECC materials at Cahokia has been unusually limited, so this find within a somewhat debatable context is interesting, to say the least. Other evidence indicates that the American Bottom area very likely participated to some degree in the SECC as early as the Stirling phase and continued as late as the early Sand Prairie phase (see Brown and Kelly 1996). The absence of SECC material at Cahokia itself is probably a result of the vagaries of sampling the large site, especially the absence of data from the mounds of the central precinct area'.[95] Emerson describes the results of archaeological excavations of Sand Prairie sites in the American Bottom region: 'Sand Prairie phase sites showed no evidence for political activities of either a community-centered or elite nature; instead, the focus was on community-centered mortuary ceremonialism'.[96] The overall pattern is one of 'social segmentation and community autonomy'.[97] It is thus likely that there was no real 'chief executive' or central 'government', making it difficult to code this section.

Limits on Power of the Chief Executive

Power distributed

♠ Constraint on executive by government ♣ ♥
♠ Constraint on executive by non-government ♣ ♥
♠ Impeachment ♣ ♥

Social Mobility

Status

Elite status

♠ elite status is hereditary ♣ suspected unknown ♥ For this period, following the abandonment of Cahokia, unknown? "Members of the highest social strata probably included chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, priests, and other religious functionaries." [98] "Cahokia may have been led by a priesthood or a group of ruler-priests, but a shift to “king” does not appear to have happened at Cahokia."[99] "The central administrative complex represents the core of the Cahokian polity. The location of ridgetop mounds within this area may equate with kin groupings or other administrative units. East St. Louis, being newer, may have been a higher status community of isolated elites." [100] At Mound 72 "Analysis of the skeletal remains shows that certain burial groups were of higher status than others and that some may have come prom places other than Cahokia."[101]

Religion and Normative Ideology

♠ RA ♣ Jenny Reddish; Enrico Cioni ♥ The name of the research assistant or associate who coded the data. If more than one RA made a substantial contribution, list all.

Deification of Rulers

♠ Rulers are legitimated by gods ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Excavations of Sand Prairie-phase cemeteries 'suggest an egalitarian social and political regime for the local population'.[102]

♠ Rulers are gods ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Excavations of Sand Prairie-phase cemeteries 'suggest an egalitarian social and political regime for the local population'.[103]

Normative Ideological Aspects of Equity and Prosociality

♠ Ideological reinforcement of equality ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Excavations of Sand Prairie-phase cemeteries 'suggest an egalitarian social and political regime for the local population'.[104]

♠ Ideological thought equates rulers and commoners ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Excavations of Sand Prairie-phase cemeteries 'suggest an egalitarian social and political regime for the local population'.[105]
♠ Ideological thought equates elites and commoners ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Excavations of Sand Prairie-phase cemeteries 'suggest an egalitarian social and political regime for the local population'.[106]

♠ Ideology reinforces prosociality ♣ suspected unknown ♥

♠ production of public goods ♣ suspected unknown ♥

Moralizing Supernatural Powers

♠ Moral concern is primary ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is certain ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing norms are broad ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is targeted ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement of rulers ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by elites ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by commoners ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in afterlife ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in this life ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is agentic ♣ inferred absent ♥

These data were reviewed by expert advisors and consultants. For a detailed description of these data, refer to the relevant Analytic Narratives, reference tables, and acknowledgements page. [107] [108] [109]

References

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  8. (Kelly et al. 1984, 130) Kelly, John E., Steven J. Ozuk, Douglas K. Jackson, Dale L. McElrath, Fred A. Finney, and Duane Esarey. 1984. "Emergent Mississippian Period." In American Bottom Archaeology: A Summary of the FAI-270 Project Contribution to the Culture History of the Mississippi River Valley, edited by Charles L. Bareis and James W. Porter, 128-57. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/2UP556X5.
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