Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2013 Ms. Sarah Baires: Rattlesnake Causeway and the Experience of Death at Cahokia

FREE Event
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 D
eath 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 Cahokia.
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.
Jeanne Jesernik