Prehistoric Mound Buildersby Rit Nosotro
Explore possible connections between mound builders of eastern North America with the mound (pyramid) builders of early (pre-Aztec) Mesoamerica.
In Cahokia: Forgotten Jewel of the Midwest, in Mysterious World, an online journal, it says:
These close similarities [between Aztalan and Cahokia], combined with the known links between Aztalan and Cahokia, give more credence to the idea put forth in our Aztalan article that the ancient Aztecs had migrated to Mexico from the north, possibly from as far north as Aztalan. Cahokia is also a contender for an origin point for the Aztecs, but in either case, the extensive mound-building culture in North America and the similarity in building styles between North and Central American pyramidal structures makes it clear that there was some sort of cultural contact at some point. 1This seems to ignore the fact that the Olmecs were making pyramids to rival those of the Aztecs more than 1600 years before the Aztecs. 2 In Southeastern Prehistory, Archaic Period, on the "Links to the Past" website of the National Park Service, it says "Recent radiocarbon samples in Louisiana have provided considerable evidence of a mound-building tradition in Louisiana at least by 5,900 years ago." 3 However, in the aforementioned article on Cahokia, it says "Starting around 500 b.c., various subgroups of Native Americans . . . began to build earthen burial mounds and effigy mounds in the shape of animals." 4 Whichever is true, it is apparent that, wherever the idea of building mounds originated, it had time to travel between the Mississippi and Mesoamerica. Although there was sufficient time, the differences in architecture and usage of the Mesoamerican and Mississippian pyramids/mounds, makes it unlikely that either directly influenced the other.
The North American mounds, are, as their name implies, mounds. They are piles of dirt, shaped, in some cases, into a rectangle with sloping sides. They were, for the most part, single tiered, with not even a rectangular shape. The Mesoamerican pyramids, on the other hand, were complex pyramids, constructed out of stone. Even during the Olmecs, the pyramids were large and ornate, such as the one at La Venta. 5
In Mesoamerica as in North America the pyramids/mounds served a religious function. However the nature of the religious function was quite distinct between the two areas. In Mesoamerica the pyramids usually bore a temple on the summit. The North American mounds, on the other hand, were, for the most part, burial mounds. If one was influenced by the other, the usage would not have changed so much, especially as both held their respective function from the beginning. There was no gradual change, for example, from temple to burial mound in North America. The usage was too different for either to have directly influenced the other.
Monks Mound in North America, differs significantly from many other North American mounds. It was built much later than the burial mounds, in 1100, and bears a strong resemblance to Mesoamerican pyramids. It is a multi-terrace, 100-foot-high mound, made of earth, on top of which stood a huge building, in which the chief lived and conducted religious ceremonies. It seems quite plausible that Monks Mound was influenced by Mesoamerican culture. 6
Thus, it is apparent, because of difference in style and usage, neither the Mesoamericans with their pyramid-temples, nor the North Americans, with their burial mounds, directly influenced the other.
up1Doug Elwell. "Cahokia: Forgotten Jewel of the Midwest." 1999. <http://www.mysteriousworld.com/Journal/1999/Spring/Cahokia01> (November 24, 2005)
up2John Pohl. "Chronology: Mesoamerican Timeline." <http://www.famsi.org/research/pohl/chronology.html> (November 24, 2005)
up3N/A. "Archaic Period." 2001. <http://www.cr.nps.gov/seac/outline/03-archaic/index.htm> (November 24, 2005)
up4 Doug Elwell. "Cahokia: Forgotten Jewel of the Midwest." 1999. <http://www.mysteriousworld.com/Journal/1999/Spring/Cahokia01> (November 24, 2005)
Additional information about <http://hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw03mound-builders.htm>
Focus on Facts
The above essay was donated to hyperhistory.net.
of inaccuracies or plagiarism.
Post a link to this essay,
a great essay
on your blog or website :
|Comparative Essays||Biographies||Doc. Based Questions||Change Over Time|