Cahokia (fl. 1050-1250) was the largest North American city north of Mexico in 1100. It was as large as Paris or London in its day, or New York in the late 1700s. It had 15,000 to 40,000 people and stood across the Mississippi River from where St Louis now stands. It arose almost overnight, five times bigger than anything for thousands of miles – and then suddenly it fell 200 years later.


Thomas Jefferson knew about it, yet it was little known or studied till the 1960s when the US government dug up part of it up to build an interstate highway. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, one with a billboard for Joe’s Carpet King in the middle of it (as of 2011).


Monks Mound (pictured) is the main thing left. It has stood for a thousand years – yet is built on clay! In a flood plain…

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