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In the mid eleventh century AD, Cahokia emerged as a substantial Mississippian urban centre. To the east, a shrine-complex known as the Emerald Acropolis, marking the beginning of a processional route to the city, also flourished. Excavations and geophysical survey of the monumental landscape around this site suggest that lunar cycles were important in the orientation of structures and settlement layout. They further indicate that water played a significant role in the ritual activities associated with the closure and abandonment of individual structures. The contemporary development of these sites suggests an intrinsic connection between them, and provides early evidence of the importance that the moon and water came to assume in Mississippian culture.
The recent discovery of a cache of 70 groundstone axe-heads at the Grossmann site, near Cahokia, in the Mississippi valley prompts a new interpretation of the commemorative and ritual value of such deposits. The makers of these axe-heads seem to belong to a community of specialists who had a contributory role in the foundation of the Cahokia polity.
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