Skip directly to content

Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Washington University
  • Tristram R Kidder
  • (314) 935-5242
  • John G Stauffer
Award Date:07/07/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 31,493
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 31,493
  • FY 2020=$31,493
Start Date:08/01/2020
End Date:07/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: The Construction of Monumental Architecture
Federal Award ID Number:2032113
DUNS ID:068552207
Parent DUNS ID:068552207
Program:Archaeology DDRI
Program Officer:
  • John Yellen
  • (703) 292-8759

Awardee Location

Street:CAMPUS BOX 1054
City:Saint Louis
County:Saint Louis
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Street:30 Ramey Street
Cong. District:13

Abstract at Time of Award

This project investigates how the nature of coalescence and emergence of social complexity results in the creation of monuments and artificial landscapes. Multidisciplinary scholars have approached the emergence of social complexity, particularly in early urban centers, as a phenomenon conditioned by process and agency, whereby monuments are built conspicuously as representations of the social order. Archaeology is well positioned to examine the social conditions that gave rise to early urban centers and explain how monumental construction was undertaken with respect to social organization, material resources, and mobility of surplus labor. To what extent does the charismatic authority of prominent leaders or longstanding adherence to tradition shape the increasingly artificial landscapes of the world’s earliest cities and how? For US moundbuilding societies the creation of earthworks held both religious and socio-political significance, as a means of creating a common identity at the place where monuments were built. As such, the energetics of their construction and organization of their internal architectures provide critical insights into their social environments. This project will focus on the largest US Pre-Columbian ceremonial center, by examining the nature and pace of monumental earthwork construction within the site’s central precinct. Existing interpretations of the site’s development into an urban center are divided between models that emphasize rapid or slow-paced monumental construction. Rapid pace models claim that hegemonic authority was exercised within a highly stratified social order at the site to direct monumental construction projects, while slower pace models portray such monumental architectures as byproducts of community nucleation and aggregation that carried over extended time periods. With the aid of accelerated mass spectrometry dating and Bayesian statistical models that reference exposed earthwork contexts, this project will assess what labor investments and construction strategies were employed for plaza and mound building at the site. Excavations into a suspected plaza compound with previously undocumented earthworks will be undertaken to acquire datable samples and record new forms of architecture. In this way, the pace and nature of moundbuilding as an expression of the existing social order will be more effectively interpreted. Consequently, the material history of this early urban center can be framed within the larger narratives about incipient urbanism and society at a global scale. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

For specific questions or comments about this information including the NSF Project Outcomes Report, contact us.