Cahokia newsPosted: February 6, 2020
Don’t get too excited by the headline over at Phys.org. What they really seem to have found is that people continued to live in the Cahokia region even after the big population center “collapsed” or sort of dwindled out.
I call your attention to this article because it highlights what I love about archaeology: the extremes of methodology. You read this and you’re like cool, new light on an ancient city. How did they find it out?
To collect the evidence, White and colleagues paddled out into Horseshoe Lake, which is adjacent to Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site, and dug up core samples of mud some 10 feet below the lakebed. By measuring concentrations of fecal stanols, they were able to gauge population changes from the Mississippian period through European contact.
These people are paddling out into a lake, dredging up mud, and testing it for human shit.
You know what? There are worse ways to spend an afternoon. There’s something so deeply funny and human about thinking that maybe in a thousand years or so some archaeologist will be studying your stool to find out what the hell you were up to.