Cahokia was an ancient Native American town which was located in the southwest of the current U.S. state of Illinois. Around the middle of the XIand century, the city was a stronghold of mississippian culture. At that time, it had no less than 15,000 inhabitants.
But in the fourteenthand century, for unknown reasons, the city was deserted by its inhabitants. The hypothesis most often put forward by historians was an overexploitation of the land which would have caused erosions andmajor flooding.
These natural disasters would have pushed its inhabitants to abandon the city.
A hypothesis supported by several elements
A closer look reveals that the ancient city was located in a low areanext to the confluence of three rivers, a place prone to flooding. But that’s not all. There is also a very common story in the region that talks about certain practices of the inhabitants of the ancient city. This story mentionsland usewhich would have caused erosions and sediment formation.
In addition, excavations have also established that the inhabitants of the ancient city cut a lot of wood, especially to build defensive fortifications. This would then have caused all kinds of natural disasters that led to the disappearance of the city. However, these are just guesses. Indeed, until today, researchers have still not been able to find evidence to support these theories. A recent study even proved the opposite.
The hypothesis of deforestation and overexploitation of the land definitively ruled out
Last year, everything changed after a group of researchers published the results of a study they conducted. These have taken sediment cores on the site of the ancient city and analyzed them. They then found that the ground remained stable from the golden age of the city of Cahokia, until the middle of the XIXand century, the period of the industrial revolution. They thus concluded that the city could not have been ravaged by natural disasters, and especially not by floods.
By ruling out this hypothesis, researchers will therefore be forced to explore other tracks to explain the desertion of the city.