Date: Sunday, May 19, 2013.
Place: Evanston Public Library/ 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston
Where? Community Meeting room 107 (first floor)
3:00 p.m. Social Hour: Refreshments and Fellowship.
3:30 p.m. Presentation by our guest speaker:
Ms. Sarah Baires: Rattlesnake Causeway and the Experience of Death at Cahokia
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. Informal dinner with our speaker at Dave’s Italian Kitchen.
Free and open to the public
Free Parking at Library
For our final CAS meeting before we break for the summer
months, Ms. Sarah Baires will present some of the discoveries that she
and her colleagues unearthed while investigating the spiritual and
political behavioral practices at the ancient Mississippian Site of
This monumental archaeological site is located in Collinsville,
Illinois (near St. Louis, Missouri) on the Mississippi River floodplain
known as the American Bottom. A log stockade enclosed the
community’s central mound-and-plaza complex, including Monks Mound, the
largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in North America. Baires’ work focuses
on a 1 km long raised earthen causeway that connects the southerly
Rattlesnake Mound (Mound 66) to the city’s central precinct.
Visually, the Rattlesnake Causeway appears to have been a
processional avenue between public space and burial grounds symbolizing a
relationship between Cahokians and their venerated ancestors. But which
Cahokians, and whose ancestors? For mortuary practices at Cahokia also
lend insight into this large urban center’s political authority and
hierarchy! Furthermore, the celestial orientation of the causeway and
other Cahokian structures has great bearing on today’s understanding of
the social and economic implications this carefully planned, massive
scale design would have had.
Ms. Sarah Baires is a Ph.D. student in the Department of
Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her
research interests include mortuary practice and religion and how these
two aspects contribute to the social organization at Cahokia. In 2011,
Baires was awarded the Charles J. Bareis Research Assistantship, which
enabled her to do excavation work at Cahokia’s Rattlesnake Mound. In
2012, federal grant money allowed Baires’ to continue her doctoral
dissertation research at Cahokia’s Rattlesnake Causeway.