COLLINSVILLE, Ill. _ Human sacrifice! Victims buried alive! Read all about it in "Cahokia _ Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi."
According to this new book by University of Illinois archaeologist and professor of anthropology Tim Pauketat, the mound builders weren't always the idyllic, corn-growing, pottery-making, fishing-hunting gentle villagers depicted in various dioramas at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville.
Pauketat said these long-vanished people practiced human sacrifice of women and men on a mass scale and weren't always careful to bury only the dead.
Based on years of study of artifacts including many from the extensive excavation of the site's Mound 72 during 1967-71, Pauketat's book is getting national attention. The Washington Post described it as "undeniably hot." A national online review service used the headline, "Sacrificial virgins of the Mississippi."
The "virgins" angle may be a bit of an overstatement, said Pauketat, but not by much.
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