The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded $100,000 to the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) for a two-year non-invasive geophysical survey of 24 mounds at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site and three surrounding mound sites.
The impetus of the project is to better understand the role of sweat lodges and watery landscapes at the Indigenous city of Cahokia by using archaeological geophysics to accurately identify architecture with watery associations. The architecture includes both circular platform mounds and circular sweat lodge buildings, sometimes connected to water by raised earthen causeways.
ISAS is currently consulting with Tribal Nations who are the descendants of the peoples of Cahokia to guide the project and build research partnerships. In 2023, ISAS will host five Tribal representatives for all-expenses-paid training in archaeological geophysics as part of the research undertaken at Cahokia.
The proposed project results will include geophysical images, detailed architectural maps, and an augmented reality experience of a circular sweat lodge building, all of which will be interpreted and developed in partnership with descendant Tribal Nations.