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Cahokia Mounds Triangulation
Saturday, 06 March 2010
I often journey deep into the countryside and ancient mounds in search of powerful mobile storytelling. I was pretty excited by this guide developed in 2008 for America's largest archeological site, Cahokia Mounds, a 20,000 soul Mississippian community at its apex in 1000AD. They worshiped the sun and left behind a swath of sacred mounds 20 miles east of St. Louis in Illinois. Recently, there has been a series of Indiana-Jones-like explorations of the site, using cosmology and advanced geometry to determine how the mounds are laid out along an ancient, sacred blueprint. Wow!
From http://www.sacreative.com/itouch/
The mobile guide, unfortunately, was really, really far from wow. Flute music and emasculated voiceover espoused dimensions and dates. Yet within this litany of facts, I found a pretty good one: the "Center" of this sun city lay on a corner of the highest mound, at the apex of two isosceles triangles (see drawing below.) Standing on this ancient apex you look west and see the mirage of the St. Louis skyline, with its 1965, 630-foot high arch--itself a series of powerful triangles.

Above: iTouch Video/Audio Tour of Cahokia (Schwartz Associates)

In my kind of Unibomber diagram below you see what I think is the most interesting site at Cahokia: the view to the observation deck at the top of the St. Louis arch where someone at the apex of a steel-girded isosceles triangle looks out at you at the apex of a 1000 year-old, sun-worshiping isosceles triangle. Both of these observers happen to be standing in the midst of precise calculations which reach towards something mystical: America's manifest destiny and the Cahokia Indians' sun god.

The artist rendering above describes 3 triangles that converge on the largest archeological site in the US. In Cahokia, IL (drawn image to the right) there is a 100ft mound, whose lower shelf was actually the center of this MIssissipian community. We know this because other prominent mounds form isosceles triangles with this point. From this center point, on a clear day, one can gaze 20 miles into the distance (see photograph to left) and see downtown St. Louis with its Gateway Arch. And at the apex of that isosceles triangle another observer sees you (unwittingly). And, of course, these two observers make yet another triangle with the Sun God looking at them from above.


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