Given recent trends in global archaeology, the time is ripe for reconsidering the fundamental relationships between religious beliefs, sacred experiences, and urbanism in the ancient world. Our case study, the American Indian city of Cahokia (with a population of 10,000+ people in AD 1050), arose so abruptly as to be inexplicable except as a politico-religious movement. We approach such civilizing movements using newer "relational" theories that interrogate spiritualism through things and spaces: movements were assemblages of the dispersed agencies or powers (of things, substances, cosmic phenomena, etc) in and through space. On the heels of new findings from two seasons of archaeological research at the lunar-aligned “Emerald acropolis” in a great prairie near Cahokia, we propose intensive new field research as the principal component of a four-pronged project. Funding is requested here to include the excavation of the ritual deposits and architectural details associated with some 50 projected temples, council houses, rotundas, medicine lodges, and visitor shelters. Singular findings are anticipated to include evidence of “hierophanies”—powerful phenomenal convergences that underwrote the formation of the city of Cahokia. Evaluating the significance of our findings will be contingent on two other parts of this project for which funding is requested: (1) the development of an “augmented reality” computer model, and (2) the convening of an intensive three-day conference comparing the religious basis of six other ancient cities or proto-civilizations. The output of the project will include data monographs, two edited books, a suite of journal articles, and components of two websites. We believe that we are close to major new insights. The project promises to overhaul our understanding of the relationships of religion and urbanism by providing answers to how and why questions central to Templeton's vision and the humanities and social sciences generally.
Templeton.org is in English. Only a few pages are translated into other languages.
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