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I had been wanting to visit Cahokia for a few years. Ever since reading 1491, I was aware of its presence just outside of Saint Louis, and it called to me whenever we passed the exit -- but that was always on the way home from a vacation when we were trying to get back to work and our lives.

When I finally convinced my family to make it a part of our vacation, I was impressed by their lovely visitor center. And intrigued by the detailed tattoos (especially the facial tattoos) depicted on the majority of the artistic renditions of Cahokian residents. How did they know that Cahokians were tattooed? And how did they know those tattoos?

There were hints in the exhibits, but no satisfying answers. However, a copy of this book was displayed in one of the exhibit cases, and I was delighted to find a copy in the gift store.

This collection of essays is primarily an academic work, but it was very accessible to those who aren't anthropologists or archeologists as well. Nearly the only part that disappointed me was when the text referred to "well-known" paintings or sketches, which were of course not well known to me, and chose not to reproduce them within the book. That said, there were definitely many illustrations they did include -- and referred to again and again, across chapters. So this was not the usual collection of essays where each author seems to have no idea what the others are writing.

I could hardly be happier with this book as an answer to the question I was asking. It told a very thorough and comprehensive story of how anthropologists and archaeologists have reconstructed what they know of tattoo traditions among Native American -- particularly those east of the Rockies, even among those prehistorical civilizations such as the Cahokians. Using the descriptions and illustrations of European settlers, artifacts, oral histories, and other sources, this is a book not just of what is known, but how it is known, what is still not known, and what is uncertain.

Highly recommended to those interested in tattoos, Native American history, and archaeology.
… (més)
greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |