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Study reveals changes in the development of downtown Cahokia



Researchers have revealed the changes in the organisation and use of space in downtown Cahokia, by conducting scientist studies on the western edge of the Grand Plaza.

Cahokia was the largest urban settlement to develop from the Mississippian culture, a mound-building pre-Columbian civilisation that developed in the Midwestern, Eastern, and South-eastern United States.

The area was first inhabited as early as the Late Archaic period around 1200 BC, but the original builders are believed to have settled in the region around AD 600-700 during the Late Woodland Period.

At its peak, Cahokia had a population of up to 20,000 inhabitants, who constructed 120 earthen mounds that involved moving 55 million cubic feet of earth over a period several decades.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Appalachian State University, University of North Carolina, Washington University in St. Louis and the Colorado State University.

The team applied a magnetometer and electromagnetic induction survey at the western edge of the Grand Plaza and compared their results with LiDAR-derived visualisations and aerial photography.

This has revealed new information on the nature and sequence of monument construction in Downtown Cahokia, as well as architectural changes in domestic and special-use structures.

The team found that monumental architecture contributed to the overall aesthetic of this public space, in particular with mounds 48 and 57 that form the western end of the Great Plaza.

Geophysical data has also shown the extant of building growth and decline over the centuries in the Great Plaza area, with 17 buildings from the Terminal Late Woodland/Emergent Mississippian period (AD 925–1050), 10 buildings during the Lohman Phase (AD 1050–1100), 5 buildings during the Stirling Phase (AD 1100–1200), and 9 buildings in the Moorehead Phase (AD 1200–1275).

The study has also found changes in the sequence of palisade walls around the Grand Plaza, where they observed a correlation between identified palisade remnants and a small linear rise that is roughly 4.5 m wide, and encapsulates mounds along the east, south, and west of the Grand Plaza.

According to the researchers: “Our study reinforces the notion that the founding and occupation of Downtown Cahokia resulted in the creation of a heavily palimpsestic landscape that was continually transformed according to the situational needs of the communities that were enmeshed within and influenced by the site’s historical trajectory.

Drawing on the combined examination of multiple geospatial and remote sensing datasets has consequently permitted us to draw out the interplay between the societies that participated in the creation of Cahokia and the changes they left inscribed into the landscape.”

Header Image Credit : Kent Raney – Shutterstock


This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill




Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

Construction of the early Romanesque Merseburg Cathedral was begun by Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015.

It was consecrated in 1021 in the presence of Emperor Heinrich II (Henry II), however, following a series of collapses in the eastern part of the structure, the cathedral wouldn’t be formally consecrated and opened until 1042 by Bishop Hunold.

The Merseburg Cathedral of St. John and St. Lawrence is today considered one of the most important cathedral buildings in Germany.

The LDA team were excavating the basement of the so-called Martinikurie, a two-story residential building from the Baroque period. Excavations revealed the remains of the first bishop’s palace, dating from from the time of the second consecration of Merseburg Cathedral.

According to the LDA: “We found the almost completely preserved basement-like lower floor of a hall building, whose 1.75 metre thick foundation walls are still preserved up to a height of 3.40 metres. Steps in the masonry and a pillar from the time of construction inside the building prove that at least one hall-like upper floor once stood on top of this.”
The palace was constructed by Bishop Hunold, who headed the diocese of Merseburg between 1036 and 1050.

“This finding makes it possible to locate one of the most important buildings of the episcopal see in Merseburg – a building that, with its location and size, clearly expresses the self-confidence of the diocese, which was re-founded in 1004 by King Henry II of Germany” added the LDA.

Header Image Credit : LDA

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA)

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions




Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

The papyri were discovered in Berenice Troglodytica, an ancient seaport of Egypt on the western shore of the Red Sea. The city was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC), who named it after his mother, Berenice I of Egypt.

During the Roman period, Berenice Troglodytica was one of the main waystations for the trade in war elephants and exotic goods, imported from India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, and Upper Egypt.

Excavations of an animal cemetery located on the western outskirts of the city have uncovered an accumulation of ceramics originating from the Mediterranean, Africa and India.

Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Among the accumulation, the team found Roman coins, a fibula, ostracons (fragments of texts on ceramics), and several papyri.

The papyri contains the correspondence of centurions, naming Haosus, Lucinius and Petronius. Centurions were soldiers who were promoted to command a centuria or “century”, a military unit consisting of between 80 to 100 men.

“In the correspondence, Petronius asks Lucinius (stationed in Berenice Troglodytica) about the prices of individual exclusive goods. There is also the statement: “I am giving you the money, I am sending it by dromedarius (a unit of legionnaires moving on dromedaries). Take care of them, provide them with veal and poles for their tents.”

Dr. Marta Osypińska from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław, said: “For Egyptologists and other scientists dealing with antiquity, this is an extremely rare and high-calibre discovery.”

“In this part of the world, there are very few sites from the Roman period. The Egyptians tend to leave little historical accounts from this time in history, because it is the moment when they were conquered.” added  Dr. Osypińska.

Header Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Sources : PAP

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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