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In 1967, an archaeologist was excavating a giant, ancient city in the middle of Illinois.

What Cahokia may have looked like at its peak. Painting by William R. Iseminger/Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

The city, called Cahokia, existed from about 600 A.D. to about 1300 A.D. and is located across the river from modern St. Louis. It was massive; no other city in the contiguous United States would rival it until the 1800s.


In the midst of the city, archaeologists found something they called a monument to male power.

Cahokia Mounds has a number of giant structures, called earthworks. Inside one of them, Mound 72, archaeologist Melvin Fowler discovered a large number of burial sites. These included what appeared to be the graves of two very high-powered people who had been buried on cedar litters and surrounded by a bed of beads.

Artifacts from Cahokia. Photo from L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois.

Looking at the evidence, Fowler proposed that these bodies were both men, warriors and chiefs, which would make the entire site effectively a monument to them and their power.

This assumption was echoed outward for years.

"Fowler's and others' interpretation of these mounds became the model that everybody across the east was looking at in terms of understanding status and gender roles and symbolism among Native American groups in this time," Thomas Emerson, director of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, said in a press release.

But new research has smashed that assumption.

An updated diagram of the beaded burial site. Image from Julie McMahon.

Researchers double-checking those first archaeologists maps and reports found something surprising.

"We had been checking to make sure that the individuals we were looking at matched how they had been described," said anthropologist Kristin Hedman. "And in re-examining the beaded burial, we discovered that the central burial included females. This was unexpected."

Even the notes about those two central elites were wrong. They weren't two men; they were one man and one woman. This completely changed the meaning and symbolism behind Mound 72.

Turns out, Cahokia wasn't a completely male-dominated society. It was a lot more equal than that.

"Now, we realize, we don't have a system in which males are these dominant figures and females are playing bit parts," Emerson said. "What we have at Cahokia is very much a nobility. It's not a male nobility. It's males and females, and their relationships are very important."

And this actually lines up better with some other stuff we know about this city, too. For example, a lot of the temples around Cahokia weren't dedicated to war or male power at all.

This undated photo shows a dig at Cahokia. The sign may say '86, but it's too blurry to tell. Photo by University/AFP/Getty Images.

"The symbolism is all about life renewal, fertility, agriculture," Emerson said. "Most of the stone figures found there are female."

In fact, when the Spanish and French came to the area in the 1500s, they noted how many societies had both men and women in positions of power, Emerson said.

Emerson attributed the mistaken assumption to archaeologists projecting warrior culture from the southwest back east — which is kind of a big mistake considering that it was hundreds of years earlier and hundreds of miles away. Plus, Native Americans aren't one single homogenous culture but hundreds of different nations with rich, complex, diverse histories.

As a side note, it's kind of awesome to see more evidence suggesting that not all societies are doomed to fall into systems with unequal gender roles.

We don't know enough to make grand pronouncements about specific aspects of Cahokian society — after all, it's totally possible that new evidence is still out there and will challenge all our assumptions yet again — but it's cool seeing how this new evidence hints that we shouldn't think that everything has to be a "monument to male power."

After all, both science and progress thrive when we challenge assumptions.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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via Pixabay

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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