SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, October 15, 2010
The Cahokia Woodhenge
Dr. Michael Friedlander
During excavations west of Monks Mound in the early 1960s, Warren Wittry discovered traces of wooden posts that had been set out around five large circles. These circles appear to have been constructed with astronomical alignments. They functioned, centuries ago, as a pre-telescope astronomical observatory. In 1985, a woodhenge of tall posts was erected around the largest circle, and today this is an impressive component of the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site complex. Dr. Friedlander will describe these circles and point out some of the astronomical alignments. He will explain something about the astronomy of the ancients, and its importance in the lives of the people of those times.
Michael Friedlander is a Professor of Physics at Washington University. His primary area of research has been in cosmic rays, but he is also fascinated by archaeoastronomy – the astronomy of ancient cultures. In addition to numerous technical publications, he has authored several books for general readers. His most recent book is 'A Thin Cosmic Rain' (Harvard University Press, 2000).