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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Collinsville in Madison County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Monks Mound

The largest prehistoric earthwork in the Americas

 
 
Monks Mound Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, June 15, 2014
1. Monks Mound Marker
Inscription. Monks Mound is the largest prehistoric earthwork in the Americas. Its base covers over 14 acres, and it rises to a height of 100 feet. It contains an estimated 22 million cubic feet of earth, all hand-carried in baskets from the many borrow pits through the Cahokia site.

It was not built all at once. But in a series of stages, mostly from AD 950-1200. Core-drillings through the mound suggest eight to 14 building stages. Excavations at various locations found indications of a stairway on the South Ramp; several buildings and a small mound rebuilt eight times on the First Terrace; a large temple structure on the Fourth Terrace; evidence of a French chapel and historic Indian occupation (1730s) on the First Terrace; and the discovery of the Birdman Tablets on the east side of the mound.

Recent tests confirm that the First Terrace was a late addition to the front of the mound and drilling deep beneath the Second Terrance encountered a large mass of stone cobbles whose function is unknown at this time. The Mississippians were also doing soil engineering, selecting and placing specific soils for strength or drainage.

It is called Monks Mound because a group of French Trappist Monks lived on a nearby mound from 1809-1913 and planted gardens, fruit trees and wheat on the terraces of this mound.


(Lower
Monks Mound Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, June 15, 2014
2. Monks Mound Marker
Close-up of illustrations and map on marker
Left Image Caption)

The “Birdman Tablet” was discovered in excavations on the east side of Monks Mound in 1971. The front side of this engraved sandstone tablet depicts a man in a “falcon dancer” outfit, with a beaked mask and wing; the reverse side has a cross-hatched diamond patterns representing a snake.

(Upper Center Illustration Caption)
The Fourth Terrace building was probably the residence of the leader and the religious/political focus of this urban center. A fenced courtyard with a huge post in the center, enclosed the fourth terrace.
In the 1830s Amos Hill built his farm complex on the Third Terrace and removed a small mound on the southeast corner. He is buried on the northwest corner of the Fourth Terrace.

(Lower Center Illustration Caption)
The paramount chief and his attendants greet the rising sun from the top of Monks Mound. Among some later Mississippian peoples in the Southeast the chief was believed to be related to the Sun and that may have been true at Cahokia as well.

(Upper Center Map Caption)
Excavation map of the last temple on the fourth terrace—with courtyard, fence, and large post AD 1150
Mound Facts
- The base covers an area of over 14 acres.
- It is 100 feet at the highest point.
- It contains 22 million
Monks Mound Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, June 15, 2014
3. Monks Mound Marker
Close-up of illustration on marker
cubic feet of earth.
- The building on the top terrace measured 48 feet by 104 feet and possibly 50 feet high.
- Construction of the mound began around AD 950, and it was enlarged several times until AD 1250.
 
Erected by Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
 
Location. 38° 39.545′ N, 90° 3.666′ W. Marker is near Collinsville, Illinois, in Madison County. Marker can be reached from Collins Ln 0.1 miles north of Collinsville Rd. Click for map. Collins Lane ends in a parking lot for Monks Mound. Marker is on the trail from the parking lot to Monks Mound. Marker is in this post office area: Collinsville IL 62234, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cahokia (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Stockade (approx. 0.2 miles away); Grand Plaza (approx. mile away); Woodhenge (approx. 0.7 miles away); Lewis and Clark and St. Louis Riverfront (approx. 6.9 miles away in Missouri); La Grande Rue (approx. 6.9 miles away in Missouri); Old Mission Hotel (approx. 6.9 miles away in Missouri); Old Judge Coffee Bldg. (approx. 7 miles away in Missouri). Click for a list of all markers in Collinsville.
 
Also see . . .  Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
Monks Mound Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, June 15, 2014
4. Monks Mound Marker
Close-up of image on marker
Official website of Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. (Submitted on December 27, 2012, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.) 
 
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers
 
Monks Mound Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, June 15, 2014
5. Monks Mound Marker
Located on trail to Monks Mound
South Ramp of Monks Mound image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, May 18, 2010
6. South Ramp of Monks Mound
Top of Monks Mound image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, May 18, 2010
7. Top of Monks Mound
View of Downtown St. Louis<br>from top of Monks Mound image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, May 18, 2010
8. View of Downtown St. Louis
from top of Monks Mound
Monks Mound Marker in 2010 image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, May 18, 2010
9. Monks Mound Marker in 2010
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 397 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.   6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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