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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Sustain. Cities | doi: 10.3389/frsc.2019.00006

Cahokia: Urbanization, Metabolism, and Collapse

  • 1Utah State University, United States

Cahokia in the 12th century A.D. was the largest metropolitan area and the most complex political system in North America north of Mexico. Its metabolism depended on an area of high natural and agricultural productivity. As it grew, Cahokia absorbed much of the rural population, transforming their labor from agriculture to public works. As Cahokia collapsed, this population first reoccupied the countryside, then left the region. Cahokia’s sustaining area was largely abandoned for centuries, suggesting that environmental degradation had made the region unsuitable for settlement, let alone the ability to support a metropolis. Factors pertinent to understanding the collapse of Cahokia include the societal metabolism, complexity, level of public works, the status of the support population, growth within the elite stratum, and trends in the American Bottom environment.

Keywords: Cahokia, Collapse, Complexity, Mississippian, urban metabolism, Urbanization

Received: 16 Aug 2019; Accepted: 08 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Tainter. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Joseph A. Tainter, Utah State University, Logan, United States, joseph.tainter@usu.edu