Quote of the Day

By Keith Kloor | January 5, 2011 2:14 pm

Here’s some sobering context from an archaeologist:

If you look broadly at human history, failure is the norm. What’s amazing is when things last.

That observation was made in reference to the Cahokia, a little known and little appreciated pre-Columbian empire that gets the full National Geographic treatment in its current issue.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Archaeology, Cahokia
MORE ABOUT: Archaeology, Cahokia
  • Jim Allison

    And if you look broadly at human life, it always ends in death. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of good times for civilizations as well as individuals. Sometimes its too easy to be pessimistic taking the broad view. Understanding how and why civilizations fall apart is important, but so is understanding that they sometimes endure for centuries.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Point taken, Jim. I was mostly trying to draw attention to the Cahokia, who I think are an under-appreciated archaeological culture–at least by the general public. Part of that is because their mounds are no match for Chaco’s buildings or Mesa Verde’s cliff dwellings.

  • Cola Vaughan

    Tim Pauketat has a very readable book about Cahokia for the general public: Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi (Penguin Library of American Indian History)by Timothy R. Pauketat (Jul 27, 2010)
    When you consider that North Carolina for example had probably more than 2 dozen Cahokian influenced or Mississippian mounds including possibly one in Currituck County within sight of the Atlantic and Chunkey Stones (read the book!) are found all over the state SOMEthing was going on. Of course the potential Mesoamerican connections or influences are another story. Interesting stuff.


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Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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