Myths & mysteries: The Mounds of Cahokia
The people who walked and lived on this Earth in the ancient past left many mysteries behind — strange stuff for archaeologists to ponder upon regarding their lives and cultures.
The purpose of their traditions and monuments left behind are puzzles for us to solve, puzzles that are mysteries in themselves. Therefore, even after centuries or decades, they still remain unsolved and mysterious. Native American people have left strange remnants of their civilisation that no one has found an answer to. The mystery of the ancient mound builders is one such enigma.
Huge manmade mounds of earth made into different shapes and spread across a vast plain in Illinois, USA, has astounded historians and researchers to their purpose. One of the large mounds is 100 feet high, that makes it the largest manmade mound in north of Mexico, near the Mississippi river in America.
As archaeologists dug around the mounds trying to unravel this mysterious and forgotten people, they found the remains of a very interesting collection of artefacts that made them realise that these were no ordinary ancient people. They were capable of advanced engineering and had expertise in making tools and pipes from copper and were intelligent city and town planners.
They existed, according to experts, was in 1050AD.
The main city is said to have had 15,000 residents and then spread out to different suburbs and agricultural lands which brought the entire region to a population of more than 40,000 residents living in well-planned prosperous surroundings. This means that Cahokia was one of, if not the largest, settlements in the world at that period in time.
The first mystery regarding this ancient metropolis are its mounds but there is also the question of how could a place of 1,000 residents grow to 40,000 people in just 100 years. Because supporting a rapid growth in population would not be an easy task in those times. But it seems that they had such excellent planning of engineering and suburban housing, including agricultural growth, to support so many residents.
Then there is the other mystery. What happened to all the people and what brought about the downfall of this great civilisation after just 250 years? Some say that there might have been a “little Ice Age”, while others say maybe warring with other societies. But here is when legend and myth comes in.
Tales brought down from generations past speak of a strange and almost science fiction scenario. In 720AD, the Cahokians were people fighting for survival due to shortage of food and spread of diseases. Just as all hope seemed lost, they were visited by “robed beings” from the sky.
These advanced beings told them that they would be saved from extinction if they were given the advanced knowledge of technology and many other sciences that these beings possessed. But there was a catch here. The beings wearing robes who appeared from the skies would make them one of the most powerful people on Earth, but they would return after 500 years!
They would come back to collect their payment, including riches and all their children under the age of 16 years.
The agreement was made and accepted. The Cahokian society became one of the best in the world. And what about the returning of the beings from the sky? Hey, 500 years is a long time, especially when one is almost ruling the world as far as being the most advanced civilisation is concerned. Thus, the pact became just a faint idea for folktales. Time passed and 500 years after their ancestors had made the pact with the strange people, it all became a forgotten story.
One day as the Cahokians basked in their glory, the ground began to shake. It seemed that fire rained from above. The robed beings had landed on the outside of the city limits to collect their bounty as promised. The angry and appalled Cahokians refused to part with their riches and children, and a battle started between the two parties.
The robed beings brought down a great number of troops to fight the Cahokians. But even though the Cahokians had a powerful army, they were no match for the advanced weapons of the other side. Soon the great beings marched towards the gates of the city and entered it. The Cahokians now realising that they were no match for the beings and had only one choice — to use the very weapon that the advanced beings themselves had taught them in the past. The power of the mounds!
The mounds built as control towers were now used as a weapon by all the leaders and spiritual elders of the city to focus their ‘psychic’ energy on the mounds by bringing thoughts of doom and destruction into the minds of their opponents. Talk about good old mind control!
It is said that the shockwave that came from the energy focused on the mounds was so intense that not only did it destroy the enemy but also their own people as well. Thus all we see today are the mysterious mounds left by this great civilisation.
Though the worldwide interest in the ancient mound-builders still exists, so does the great legend that surrounds it. Even today, people come to see and learn about this mystery and say that they can feel the psychic energy coming from the mounds.
Since the inhabitants of this interesting civilisation have left no written records of their life and culture, no one knows the original name of the city or has any proof of what actually happened to them. But what archaeologists theorise is that it must have taken thousands of workers and many decades to build these mounds by moving almost 55 million cubic feet of earth in woven baskets to achieve the task of making these artificial mounds and plazas. Their tools were considered the best at that period in time and thus brought in rich trade. Their network of plazas tells the story of a great society not only in agriculture but also in sports for the youth and gatherings for ceremonies.
So where did all these people go? Maybe “the sky fell on them”?