Reevaluating American Indian Architecture

aerial view of site of ancient Native American civilization in current times

American Indians of the Mississippi River Valley aren’t often afforded the same degree of renown for their architecture and engineering as ancient Mesoamerican cultures, but their sites and land use are as noteworthy as those who preceded them. History of Art Professor Anna Blume has been researching monumental American Indian architecture in this region, dating as far back as the fourth century B.C., with the support of an FIT Faculty Development Grant.
One of the most remarkable remaining sites from the Late Archaic period is the city of Poverty Point, Louisiana. From there, diverse communities continued to shape the land over thousands of years, traveling up the Mississippi River, through the massive thirteenth-century city of Cahokia, Illinois, to the animal and geometric earthworks of Iowa and Lake Michigan. Professor Blume’s research focuses on three of these sites from different periods and geographic locations, and considers the importance of monumental architecture to the people who made them. She also assesses why these monuments are so rarely referred to within the broader pre-Columbian literature and within the ancient past of North America.

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