Trendingcips.com – Ancient Poop Busts Myth of Lost Cahokia Tribe. A University of California, Berkeley, an archaeologist, has dug up ancient human feces, among other demographic clues, to challenge the narrative around the legendary demise of Cahokia, North America’s most iconic pre-Columbian metropolis.
In its heyday within the 1100s, Cahokia — located in what’s now southern Illinois — was the middle for Mississippian culture and home to tens of thousands of Native Americans who farmed, fished, traded and built giant ritual mounds. Must read: Beautiful Large Coffin Found in Luxor Egypt
By the 1400s, Cahokia had been abandoned thanks to floods, droughts, resource scarcity and other drivers of depopulation. But contrary to romanticized notions of Cahokia’s lost civilization, the exodus was short-lived, consistent with a replacement UC Berkeley study.
The myth of the Vanishing Cahokia Tribe
The study takes on the “myth of the vanishing Indian” that favors decline and disappearance over Native American resilience and persistence, said lead author A.J. White, a UC Berkeley doctoral student in anthropology.
“One would think the Cahokia region was a town at the time of European contact, supported the archeological record,” White said. “But we were ready to piece together a Native American presence within the area that endured for hundreds of years.”
The findings, just published within the journal American Antiquity, make the case that a fresh wave of Native Americans repopulated the region within the 1500s and kept a gentle presence there through the 1700s, when migrations, warfare, disease, and environmental change led to a discount in the local population.
Ancient Poop Tells Secrets of the Past
White and fellow researchers at California State University, Long Beach, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northeastern University analyzed fossil pollen, the remnants of ancient feces, charcoal and other clues to reconstruct a post- Mississippian lifestyle.
Their evidence paints an image of communities built around maize farming, bison hunting and possibly even controlled burning within the grasslands, which is according to the practices of a network of tribes referred to as the Illinois Confederation.
Unlike the Mississippians who were firmly rooted within the Cahokia metropolis, the Illinois Confederation tribe members roamed further afield, tending small farms and gardens, hunting game and abruption into smaller groups when resources became scarce.
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Unusual Evidence Unearthed
The linchpin holding together the evidence of their presence within the region were “fecal stanols” derived from body waste preserved deep within the sediment under Horseshoe Lake, Cahokia’s main catchment area.
Fecal stanols are microscopic organic molecules produced in our gut once we digest food, especially meat. they’re excreted in our feces and may be preserved in layers of sediment for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Because humans produce fecal stanols in far greater quantities than animals, their levels are often wont to gauge major changes during a region’s population.
To collect the evidence, White and colleagues paddled out into Horseshoe Lake, which is adjacent to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, and dug up core samples of mud some 10 feet below the lakebed. By measuring concentrations of fecal stanols, they were ready to gauge population changes from the Mississippian period through European contact.
Fecal stanol data were also gauged in White’s first study of Cahokia’s Mississippian Period demographic changes, published last year within the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. It found that temperature change within the sort of back-to-back floods and droughts played a key role within the exodus of Cahokia’s Mississippian inhabitants.
Innovative Evidence wont to Fill within the Gaps
But while many studies have focused on the explanations for Cahokia’s decline, few have checked out the region following the exodus of Mississippians, whose culture is estimated to possess spread through the Midwestern, Southeastern and Eastern us from 700 A.D. to the 1500s.
White’s latest study sought to fill those gaps within the Cahokia area’s history.
“There’s little or no archaeological evidence for an indigenous population past Cahokia, but we were ready to fill within the gaps through historical, climatic and ecological data, and therefore the linchpin was the fecal stanol evidence,” White said.
Overall, the results suggest that the Mississippian decline didn’t mark the top of a Native American presence within the Cahokia region, but rather reveal a posh series of migrations, warfare and ecological changes within the 1500s and 1600s, before Europeans arrived on the scene, White said. Read this: Peruvian Pyramid: The Bees Reveals Its Deathly Secrets + Photos
“The story of Cahokia was tons more complex than, ‘Goodbye, Native Americans. Hello, Europeans,’ and our study uses innovative and weird evidence to show that,” White said.
Co-authors of the study are Samuel Munoz at Northeastern University, Sissel Schroeder at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Lora Stevens at California State University, Long Beach.