June 19, 2021

Timothy Pauketat on River Basin Weather Shaping Cahokia

Cahokians saw weather extremes and strong storms as spiritual transfers of power from the atmosphere to humanity. Pauketat linked this to the practice of Steam Bath Ceremonialism. Liquid water was converted into steam, and those in the steam bath absorbed the steam and its healing energy. Medicine bundles carried this idea to rural areas.

Pauketat sees the giant urban area of Cahokia, starting with the Big Bang of 1050 CE consisting of new architectural styles and lunar cycles. Shrines were expanded and causeways were constructed to make pathways to mounds with steam baths.

Throughout the 12th century, there was less rainfall precipitating dramatic changes. The migration of farmers began, defensive barriers were built, food supplies were concealed, and Steam Bath Ceremonialism declined.

More information: Timothy R. Pauketat, When the Rains Stopped: Evapotranspiration and Ontology at Ancient Cahokia, Journal of Anthropological Research (2020).  DOI: 10.1086/711102

PhysOrg has the report here: