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East Lobes Investigations

Map of Monks Mound showing East Lobes
Photo of East Lobe of Monks Mound
A second UW-Milwaukee project focused on Monks Mound were the investigations of the mound's east lobes, begun in 1969 under the direction of Ken Williams. Impetus for the project came when Fowler noted certain features on the east side of Monks Mound that suggested there may have been ramps constructed on this portion of the mound late in its history. Fowler based this suggestion on his experience in Mexico, where mounds were often reoriented to different portions of an archaeological site throughout the history of the site. The identification of a plaza directly east of Monks Mound, provided additional support for the existence of ramps on the east side of Monks Mound.

The UW-Milwaukee excavations of the east lobes of Monks Mound identified evidence of basket loading of mound fill in each of the lobes. The intact basket loads prompted Fowler to suggest that the east lobes had been built in place, and were therefore the remnants of ramps. Since the time of the east lobes excavations, archaeologists have identified a process known as mass wasting as the most probable explanation of the lobes on the east side of Monks Mound. Despite this, the UW-Milwaukee east lobes project provided major contributions to an understanding of Cahokia archaeology.

Stratigraphic profile showing basket loads of dirt

East lobe stratigraphic profile showing mass wasting of Mounds Mound The major contribution of the east lobe was the deep trench into the east side on Monks Mound. The trench demonstrated a continued occupation from the Late Bluff Patrick Phase through the Late Mississippian period Sand Prairie Phase at this portion of the site. In several instances, slope wash derived from the construction stages of Monks Mound separated the various cultural levels.
The east lobes excavations also resulted in the recovery of one of the most famous artifacts recovered from Cahokia--the "Birdman tablet" which has since become the symbol of the Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site. Photo of 'Birdman tablet'
   

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Last Updated: May 10, 2002
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