Cahokia’s Woodhenge

Part of Cahokia's Woodhenge

Part of Cahokia’s Woodhenge

Happy Birthday, Joanie! On Monday, a chance meeting with Pat, on the way into work alerted me that today was Science on Tap night at the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood. Anne and I had planned on inviting the Joan out to dinner for her birthday, but this just made it all so much easier, dinner with a show. Another friend of Joanie, Vicki joined us too. It is so much easier to crash a party then plan one. Science on Tap is a monthly joint venture between Schlafly and Washington University. Anne and Joan got there early, shopped the weekly Maplewood farmers market and reserved a table before the crush. After dinner, at show time the room was packed, so many nerds that like beer, go figure, who could have guessed? Tonight’s speaker was Michael Friedlander, physics professor. His topic: “Cahokia’s Woodhenge: an Ancient Calendar?”

Dr. Friedlander’s topic dealt with anthropological astronomy. He spoke about both England’s Stonehenge and Cahokia’s Woodhenge. These two World Heritage sites are the principal examples of ancient astronomy. He compared and contrasted both sites from an astronomical point-of-view. His talk ran short, which only left more time for the copious amount of audience questions. One questioner asked about any cross-cultural pollination between the Stonehenge and the Woodhenge builders. Friedlander dismissed that question with a joke, “No they wouldn’t have been able to afford the airfare.” Fortunately, for Friedlander, he had invited along a couple of other WashU anthropology Profs. They ended up fielding a lot of the non-astronomical, more anthropological questions that were frequently asked. They helped to quell the unruly mob that nerds on beer had become, thirsting for knowledge.

The photo with this post was taken in the summer of 2012. It shows a portion of the modern Woodhenge recreation at Cahokia Mounds State Park. Anne and I had participated in a Trailnet bike ride from the Cahokia Mounds to East Saint Louis and back. As short as it was, it was an epic bike ride from ancient ruins to modern-day ones and back.

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