Cahokia Mounds Woodhenge - Summer Solstice

Large oval-shaped pits seem to be arranged in arcs of circles at Woodhenge. An archaeologist theorized that posts set in these pits lined up with the rising sun at certain times of the year, serving as a calendar, which he called Woodhenge. After further excavations, more post pits were found where predicted, and evidence that there were as many as five Woodhenges at this location. These calendars had been built over a period of 200 years (A.D. 900-1100). Fragments of wood remaining in some of the post pits revealed red cedar had been used for the posts, a sacred wood.

COLLINSVILLE — Visitors can catch a glimpse of a sacred moment in the lives of Native Americans a thousand years ago by observing the summer solstice Sunday at Woodhenge at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

Woodhenge is a calendar of posts arranged to line up with sunrise on the longest day of the year, the shortest day and on the equinoxes, when day and night are equal in length. Residents of Cahokia Mounds — which was then the largest city north of Mexico— considered these days sacred.

Out of respect for Native American beliefs, no rituals or ceremonies will take place at the June 23 event. But visitors will stand in the same place where the Mississippian people once gathered and watch the sun rise above the same huge mound.

The observances are on the Sunday morning closest to the actual solstice, which is June 21.

The re-creation of Woodhenge stands about one-half mile west of Monks Mound on Collinsville Road. Participants should arrive by 5:20 a.m. to hear an archaeologist explain the discovery and function of the monument.

Visitors should dress for the weather and bring insect repellent.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

There is no admission fee, but a donation of $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2 for students and $15 for families is suggested.

For more information, call 618-346-5160 or visit www.cahokiamounds.org.

— The Southern

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