“Throngs jostled for space on massive plazas. Buzzy, caffeinated drinks passed from hand to hand. Crowds shouted bets as athletes hurled spears and stones. And Cahokians feasted with abandon: burrowing into their ancient waste pits, archaeologists have counted 2,000 deer carcasses from a single, blowout event. The logistics must have been staggering.
Things are quieter these days at Cahokia, now a placid Unesco site. But towering, earthen mounds there hint at the legacy of the largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico. A cosmopolitan whir of language, art and spiritual ferment, Cahokia’s population may have swelled to 30,000 people at its 1050 AD peak, making it larger, at the time, than Paris.”