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Mound 96 Investigations

One of the keys in developing the idea of a "woodhenge" associated with Mound 72, was the relationship between Mound 72 and Mound 96. After two years of excavation of post pit locations on the eastern side of the proposed woodhenge, it was determined that efforts might be more productive if they focused on the excavation of Mound 96.

Excavation of Mound 96 proceeded with a number of goals in mind. The first of these goals was to identify the structure of Mound 96 and different stages of its construction, if any existed. A second goal was to provide an idea of the functional use of the mound and how this might be related to Mound 72 and the activities documented in it. A final goal of Mound 96 excavations was to determine whether a post had been placed in the mound as Fowler had predicted.

Prior to the excavation of Mound 96, a more detailed close interval map of the mound was created from data collected in 1995. This mapping effort revealed that rather than the T-shaped mound mapped in 1979, Mound 96 was a small platform mound about 15 meters wide in both its north-south and east-west dimensions. At the top of the mound is a nearly level, rectangular surface of about 30 square meters defined by the 127.5 MAMSL contour line. Contour lines indicate an eroded ramp on the east side of the mound. The ramp is approximately 50 centimeters wide at the top of Mound 96, but expands to nearly 5 meters at the base of the mound. Close interval mapping also revealed a slight depression, approximately 1.5 meters in diameter, located about halfway between the flat top of the mound and its southern margin. The depression was very near the predicted location of the post pit Fowler postulated for Mound 96.

Excavation of Mound 96 began in 1997 with the placement of a trench south of Mound 96 that was excavated toward the center of the mound. As work progressed on the trench, variations in the stratigraphy within Mound 96 were noticed. A major change in the stratigraphy of the mound was noticed when a dark stain extending through the fill of the mound and into undisturbed sediments below was noted. The stain, which is interpreted as a post pit excavated into Mound 96 is near both the predicted location of the woodhenge post proposed for Mound 96, and the topographic depression mapped on the surface of the mound in 1995.

Continued excavation of Mound 96 revealed other features within the mound. In 1997, excavators encountered a feature that was first identified as a narrow band of light colored sediment in the wall of the trench. As excavation progressed, this narrow band broadened into a wider band of sandy sediments that was visible in the side walls of the trench as well as its north profile. Profiles of the feature in the trench walls indicate that it is basin shaped with incurved walls and a flat bottom.

Additional excavations were conducted 1998 in order to complete the excavations of Mound 96 and the feature within it. When excavation continued, the basin shaped feature was found to extend an additional 3.5 meters north of the point where work had stopped the previous year. When excavation was completed, the basin-shaped feature was seen to extend a full seven meters in the trench profile. Excavations also identified two smaller features that were excavated into the subsoil below the basin-shaped feature. The first of these features was a small sand filled basin, while the second consisted of a sizable charcoal concentration. Charcoal recovered from the small basin feature produced a radiocarbon assay of 990�40 BP, or AD 1005-1040 (1 sigma calibrated), which places the early stages of Mound 96 within the Lohmann Phase (AD 1000-1050) and contemporaneous with Mound 72. Preliminary analysis of ceramics recovered from Mound 96 support the radiocarbon dates for the Mound and suggest that the ceramics date primarily to the late Emergent Mississippian Edelhardt phase and the early Mississippian Lohmann phase, and share affinities with the ceramic assemblage from Mound 72.

The contributions of UW-Milwaukee to an understanding of the archaeology of Cahokia have been ongoing for over three decades. These contributions have focused on several aspects of Cahokia archaeology, providing invaluable data and knowledge to the study of Cahokia.


Cahokia Home Page

Metropolitan Cahokia
    Mapping Project
    Mound Analysis
    Air Photo Analysis
    Palisade Investigations
    Mound 72

Monks Mound Investigations
    First Terrace
    East Lobes

Other UWM Contributions
    Ramey Field
    Woodhenge 72
    Mound 96

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Last Updated: April 24, 2002
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