Places – Monks Mound

Monks Mound Reconstructed

Featured Site Monks Mound Collinsville, Illinois

Monks Mound is the largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in America north of Mesoamerica. Monks Mound is located at the Cahokia Mounds UNESCO World Heritage Site near Collinsville, Illinois, its size was calculated in 1988 as about 100 feet high, 955 feet long including the access ramp at the southern end, and 775 feet wide. This makes Monks Mound roughly the same size at its base as the Great Pyramid of Giza 13.1 acres. Its base circumference is larger than the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan. A 50-foot tall wooden superstructure brought the total height of the building to 150 feet.

Monks Mound in summer

Monks Mound in summer

Monks Mound in summer. The concrete staircase follows the approximate course of the ancient wooden stairs.

Unlike Egyptian pyramids which were built of stone, the platform mound was constructed almost entirely of layers of basket-transported soil and clay. Because of this construction and its flattened top, over the years, it has retained rainwater within the structure. This has caused “slumping”, the avalanche-like sliding of large sections of the sides at the highest part of the mound. Its designed dimensions would have been significantly smaller than its present extent, but recent excavations have revealed that slumping was a problem even while the mound was being made.

Monks Mound View from Above

Monks Mound View from Above

Nearly none of our writers on Indian History have associated the Monks Mound with a number of legends or myths. This is due to an unfortunate belief that the thoughts of the mound builders are indiscernible and will forever be lost. Some have stated that they are of the opinion that it seems very hazardous to draw any conclusions as to the religious beliefs of the Mound Builders. However, it is revealed that creation stories, legends, and myths are abundant which can be reasonably associated with importance in the moundbuilders culture. Many Native American groups either lived at or visited Cahokia. Yet they all had similar words for it, meaning Holy place.

Monks Mound from the side showing the 2 terraces

Monks Mound from the side showing the 2 terraces

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site – A Mississippi Valley urban center from AD 1050 to 1275 – Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1982

More information on Monks Mound and some great pictures

Monks Mound Reconstructed

Monks Mound Reconstructed

This video will give you a couple of different views of the mound. It will also take you to the top of the mound and give you a panoramic view of the site.