The various cultures collectively termed "Mound Builders" were inhabitants of North America who, during a circa 5,000-year period, constructed various styles of earthen mounds for religious, ceremonial, burial, and elite residential purposes. These included the pre-Columbian cultures of the Archaic period, Woodland period (Calusa culture Adena and Hopewell cultures), and Mississippian period; dating from roughly 3500 BCE (the construction of Watson Brake) to the 16th century CE, and living in regions of the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, and the Mississippi River valley and its tributary waters.
Since the 19th century, the prevailing scholarly consensus has been that the mounds were constructed by indigenous peoples of the Americas. Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers met natives living in a number of later Mississippian cities, described their cultures, and left artifacts. Research and study of these cultures and peoples has been based mostly on archaeology and anthropology.
The namesake cultural trait of the Mound Builders was the building of mounds and other earthworks. These burial and ceremonial structures were typically flat-topped pyramids or platform mounds, flat-topped or rounded cones, elongated ridges, and sometimes a variety of other forms. They were generally built as part of complex villages. The early earthworks built in Louisiana around 3500 BCE are the only ones known to have been built by a hunter-gatherer culture.
The best-known flat-topped pyramidal structure, which at more than 100 ft (30 m) tall is the largest pre-Columbian earthwork north of Mexico, is Monks Mound at Cahokia in present-day Collinsville, Illinois. At its maximum about CE 1150, Cahokia was an urban settlement with 20,000–30,000 people; this population was not exceeded by North American European settlements until after 1800.
Some effigy mounds were constructed in the shapes or outlines of culturally significant animals. The most famous effigy mound, Serpent Mound in southern Ohio, ranges from 1 to just over 3 ft tall (30–100 cm)., 20 ft (6 m) wide, more than 1,330 ft (405 m) long, and shaped as an undulating serpent.
Many different tribal groups and chiefdoms, involving an array of beliefs and unique cultures over thousands of years, built mounds as expressions of their cultures. The general term, "mound builder", covered their shared architectural practice of earthwork mound construction. This practice, believed to be associated with a cosmology that had a cross-cultural appeal, may indicate common cultural antecedents. The first mound building was an early marker of political and social complexity among the cultures in the Eastern United States. Watson Brake in Louisiana, constructed about 3500 BCE during the Middle Archaic period, is the oldest dated mound complex in North America. It is one of 11 mound complexes from this period found in the Lower Mississippi Valley.
These mound builders were organized; hundreds or even thousands of workers had to dig up tons of earth with the hand tools available, the soil had to be moved long distances, and finally, workers had to create the shape the builder had planned.
The most complete reference for these earthworks is Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, written by Ephraim G. Squier and Edwin H. Davis. It was published in 1848 by the Smithsonian Institution. Since many of the features which the authors documented have since been destroyed or diminished by farming and development, their surveys, sketches, and descriptions are still used by modern archaeologists. All of the sites which they identified as located in Kentucky came from the manuscripts of C. S. Rafinesque.
Hernando de Soto, the Spanish conquistador, who during 1540–1542, traversed what became the Southeast United States, encountered many different mound-builder peoples, perhaps descendants of the great Mississippian culture. The mound-building tradition still existed in the southeast during the mid-16th century. De Soto observed people living in fortified towns with lofty mounds and plazas, and surmised that many of the mounds served as foundations for priestly temples. Near present-day Augusta, Georgia, de Soto encountered a mound-building group ruled by a queen, Cofitachequi. She told him that the mounds within her territory served as the burial places for nobles.
The artist Jacques le Moyne, who had accompanied French settlers to northeastern Florida during the 1560s, likewise noted many Native American groups using existing mounds and constructing others. He produced a series of watercolor paintings depicting scenes of native life. Although most of his paintings have been lost, some engravings were copied from the originals and published in 1591 by a Flemish company. Among these is a depiction of the burial of an aboriginal Floridian tribal chief, an occasion of great mourning and ceremony. The original caption reads:
Maturin Le Petit, a Jesuit priest, met the Natchez people as did Le Page du Pratz (1758), a French explorer. Both observed them in the area that later became Mississippi. The Natchez were devout worshippers of the sun. Having a population of some 4,000, they occupied at least nine villages and were presided over by a paramount chief, known as the Great Sun, who wielded absolute power. Both observers noted the high temple mounds which the Natchez had built so that the Great Sun could commune with God, the sun. His large residence was built atop the highest mound, from "which, every morning, he greeted the rising sun, invoking thanks and blowing tobacco smoke to the four cardinal directions".
Later explorers to the same regions, only a few decades after mound-building settlements had been reported, found the regions largely depopulated, the residents vanished, and the mounds untended. Since little violent conflict with Europeans had occurred in that area during that period, the most plausible explanation is that infectious diseases from the Old World, such as smallpox and influenza, had decimated most of the Native Americans who had comprised the last mound-builder civilization.
Radiocarbon dating has established the age of the earliest Archaic mound complex in southeastern Louisiana. One of the two Monte Sano Site mounds, excavated in 1967 before being destroyed for new construction at Baton Rouge, was dated at 6220 BP (plus or minus 140 years). Researchers at the time thought that such societies were not organizationally capable of this type of construction. It has since been dated as about 6500 BP, or 4500 BCE, although not all agree.
Watson Brake is located in the floodplain of the Ouachita River near Monroe in northern Louisiana. Securely dated to about 5,400 years ago (around 3500 BCE), in the Middle Archaic period, it consists of a formation of 11 mounds from 3 to 25 ft (1–8 m) tall, connected by ridges to form an oval nearly 900 ft (270 m) across. In the Americas, building of complex earthwork mounds started at an early date, well before the pyramids of Egypt were constructed. Watson Brake was being constructed nearly 2,000 years before the better-known Poverty Point, and building continued for 500 years. Middle Archaic mound construction seems to have ceased about 2800 BC, and scholars have not ascertained the reason, but it may have been because of changes in river patterns or other environmental factors.
With the 1990s dating of Watson Brake and similar complexes, scholars established that preagricultural, preceramic American societies could organize to accomplish complex construction during extended periods of time, invalidating scholars' traditional ideas of Archaic society. Watson Brake was built by a hunter-gatherer society, the people of which occupied the area on only a seasonal basis, but where successive generations organized to build the complex mounds over a 500-year period. Their food consisted mostly of fish and deer, as well as available plants.
Poverty Point, built about 1500 BCE in what is now Louisiana, is a prominent example of Late Archaic mound-builder construction (around 2500 BCE – 1000 BCE). It is a striking complex of more than one square mile, where six earthwork crescent ridges were built in concentric arrangement, interrupted by radial aisles. Three mounds are also part of the main complex, and evidence of residences extends for about 3 miles along the bank of Bayou Macon. It is the major site among 100 associated with the Poverty Point culture and is one of the best-known early examples of earthwork monumental architecture. Unlike the localized societies during the Middle Archaic, this culture showed evidence of a wide trading network outside its area, which is one of its distinguishing characteristics.
Horr's Island, Florida, now a gated community next to Marco Island, when excavated by Michael Russo in 1980 found an Archaic Indian village site. Mound A was a burial mound that dated to 3400 BCE, making it the oldest known burial mound in North America.
The oldest mound associated with the Woodland period was the mortuary mound and pond complex at the Fort Center site in Glade County, Florida. 2012 excavations and dating by Thompson and Pluckhahn show that work began around 2600 BCE, seven centuries before the mound-builders in Ohio.
The Archaic period was followed by the Woodland period (circa 1000 BCE). Some well-understood examples are the Adena culture of Ohio, West Virginia, and parts of nearby states. The subsequent Hopewell culture built monuments from present-day Illinois to Ohio; it is renowned for its geometric earthworks. The Adena and Hopewell were not the only mound-building peoples during this time period. Contemporaneous mound-building cultures existed throughout what is now the Eastern United States, stretching as far south as Crystal River in western Florida. During this time, in parts of present-day Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, the Hopewellian Marksville culture degenerated and was succeeded by the Baytown culture. Reasons for degeneration include attacks from other tribes or the impact of severe climatic changes undermining agriculture.
The Coles Creek culture is a Late Woodland culture (700-1200 CE) in the Lower Mississippi Valley in the Southern United States that marks a significant change of the cultural history of the area. Population and cultural and political complexity increased, especially by the end of the Coles Creek period. Although many of the classic traits of chiefdom societies were not yet made, by CE 1000, the formation of simple elite polities had begun. Coles Creek sites are found in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas. The Coles Creek culture is considered ancestral to the Plaquemine culture.
Around 900–1450 CE, the Mississippian culture developed and spread through the Eastern United States, primarily along the river valleys. The largest regional center where the Mississippian culture is first definitely developed is located in Illinois near the Mississippi, and is referred to presently as Cahokia. It had several regional variants including the Middle Mississippian culture of Cahokia, the South Appalachian Mississippian variant at Moundville and Etowah, the Plaquemine Mississippian variant in south Louisiana and Mississippi, and the Caddoan Mississippian culture of northwestern Louisiana, eastern Texas, and southwestern Arkansas. Like the mound builders of the Ohio, these people built gigantic mounds as burial and ceremonial places.
Fort Ancient is the name for a Native American culture that flourished from 1000 to 1650 CE among a people who predominantly inhabited land along the Ohio River in areas of modern-day southern Ohio, northern Kentucky, and western West Virginia.
A continuation of the Coles Creek culture in the lower Mississippi River Valley in western Mississippi and eastern Louisiana. Examples include the Medora Site in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana; and the Anna and Emerald Mound sites in Mississippi. Sites inhabited by Plaquemine peoples continued to be used as vacant ceremonial centers without large village areas much as their Coles Creek ancestors had done, although their layout began to show influences from Middle Mississippian peoples to the north. The Winterville and Holly Bluff (Lake George) sites in western Mississippi are good examples that exemplify this change of layout, but continuation of site usage. During the Terminal Coles Creek period (CE 1150 to 1250), contact increased with Mississippian cultures centered upriver near St. Louis, Missouri. This resulted in the adaption of new pottery techniques, as well as new ceremonial objects and possibly new social patterns during the Plaquemine period. As more Mississippian culture influences were absorbed, the Plaquemine area as a distinct culture began to shrink after CE 1350. Eventually, the last enclave of purely Plaquemine culture was the Natchez Bluffs area, while the Yazoo Basin and adjacent areas of Louisiana became a hybrid Plaquemine-Mississippian culture. This division was recorded by Europeans when they first arrived in the area. In the Natchez Bluffs area, the Taensa and Natchez people had held out against Mississippian influence and continued to use the same sites as their ancestors, and the Plaquemine culture is considered directly ancestral to these historic period groups encountered by Europeans. Groups who appear to have absorbed more Mississippian influence were identified as those tribes speaking the Tunican, Chitimachan, and Muskogean languages.
Through the mid-19th century, European Americans did not recognize that ancestors of the Native Americans had built the prehistoric mounds of the eastern U.S. They believed that the massive earthworks and large ceremonial complexes were built by a different people. A New York Times article from 1897 described a mound in Wisconsin in which a giant human skeleton measuring over 9 ft in length was found. From 1886, another New York Times article described water receding from a mound in Cartersville, Georgia, which uncovered acres of skulls and bones, some of which were said to be gigantic. Two thigh bones were measured with the height of their owners estimated at 14 ft. President Lincoln made reference to the giants whose bones fill the mounds of America.
"But still there is more. It calls up the indefinite past. When Columbus first sought this continent – when Christ suffered on the cross – when Moses led Israel through the Red-Sea – nay, even, when Adam first came from the hand of his Maker – then as now, Niagara was roaring here. The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now. Co[n]temporary with the whole race of men, and older than the first man, Niagara is strong, and fresh to-day as ten thousand years ago. The Mammoth and Mastodon – now so long dead, that fragments of their monstrous bones, alone testify, that they ever lived, have gazed on Niagara. In that long – long time, never still for a single moment. Never dried, never froze, never slept, never rested."
A major factor in increasing public knowledge of the origins of the mounds was the 1894 report by Cyrus Thomas of the Bureau of American Ethnology. He concluded that the prehistoric earthworks of the Eastern United States were the work of early cultures of Native Americans. A small number of people had earlier made similar conclusions: Thomas Jefferson, for example, excavated a mound and from the artifacts and burial practices, noted similarities between mound-builder funeral practices and those of Native Americans in his time. In addition, Theodore Lewis in 1886 had refuted Pidgeon's fraudulent claims of pre-Native American moundbuilders.
Writers and scholars have proposed many alternative origins for the Mound Builders:
During the 19th century, a common belief was that the Jews, particularly the Lost Ten Tribes, were the ancestors of Native Americans and the Mound Builders. The Book of Mormon (published first in 1830) provides a related belief, as its narrative describes two major immigrations to the Americas from Mesopotamia: the Jaredites (3000–2000 BCE) and an Israelite group in 590 BCE (termed Nephites, Lamanites, and Mulekites). While the Nephites, Lamanites, and Mulekites were all of Jewish origin coming from Israel around 590 BCE, the Jaradites were a non-Abrahamic people separate in all aspects, except in a belief in Jehovah, from the Nephites. The Book of Mormon depicts these settlers building magnificent cities, which were destroyed by warfare about CE 385.
Some Mormon scholars have considered the Book of Mormon narrative a description of the mound-building cultures; other Mormon apologists argue for a Mesoamerican or South American setting. Theories about a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon did not develop until after Latter Day Saints were influenced by publicized findings about the Central American stone ruins. This occurred after the Book of Mormon was published.
During the 20th century, certain sects affiliated with the Black nationalist Moorish Science philosophy theorized an association with the Mound Builders. They argue that the Mound Builders were an ancient advanced Black civilization that developed the legendary continents of Atlantis and Mu, as well as ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica. These Black groups claim that the American Indians were too primitive to have developed the sophisticated societies and the technology believed necessary to build the mounds.
The Reverend Landon West claimed that Serpent Mound in Ohio was built by God, or by man inspired by him. He believed that God built the mound and placed it as a symbol of the story of the Garden of Eden.
The mound-builder explanations were often honest misinterpretations of real data from valid sources. Both scholars and laymen accepted some of these explanations. Reference to an alleged race appears in the poem "The Prairies" (1832) by William Cullen Bryant.
One belief was that American Indians were too unsophisticated to have constructed such complex earthworks and artifacts. The associated stone, metal, and clay artifacts were thought to be too complex for the Indians to have made. In the American Southeast and Midwest, numerous Indian cultures were sedentary and used agriculture. Numerous Indian towns had built surrounding stockades for defense. Capable of this type of construction, their ancestors and they could have built mounds, but people who believed that the Indians did not build the earthworks did not analyze it in this manner. They thought the Native American nomadic cultures would not organize to build such monuments, for failure to devote the time and effort to construct such time-consuming projects.
When most British colonists first arrived in America, they never witnessed the American Indians building mounds, and they found that few Indians knew of their history when asked. Yet earlier Europeans, especially the Spanish, had written numerous non-English-language accounts about the Indians' construction of mounds. Garcilaso de la Vega reported how the Indians built the mounds and placed temples on top of them. A few French expeditions reported staying with Indian societies who built mounds.
People also claimed that the Indians were not the Mound Builders because the mounds and related artifacts were older than Indian cultures. Caleb Atwater's misunderstanding of stratigraphy caused him to believe that the Mound Builders were a much older civilization than the Indians. In his book, Antiquities Discovered in the Western States (1820), Atwater claimed that Indian remains were always found right beneath the surface of the earth. Since the artifacts associated with the Mound Builders were found fairly deep in the ground, Atwater argued that they must be from a different group of people. The discovery of metal artifacts further convinced people that the Mound Builders were not Native Americans. The Indians encountered by the Europeans and Americans were not thought to engage in metallurgy. Some artifacts that were found in relation to the mounds were inscribed with symbols. As the Europeans did not know of any Indian cultures that had a writing system, they assumed a different group had created them.
Several hoaxes have involved the Mound Builder cultures.
In 1860, David Wyrick discovered the "Keystone tablet", containing Hebrew language inscriptions written on it, in Newark, Ohio. Soon afterward, he found the "Newark Decalogue Stone" nearby, also claimed to be inscribed in Hebrew. The authenticity of the "Newark Holy Stones" and the circumstances of their discovery are disputed.
The Walam Olum hoax had considerable influence on perceptions of the Mound Builders. In 1836, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque published his translation of a text he claimed had been written in pictographs on wooden tablets. This text explained that the Lenape Indians originated in Asia, told of their passage over the Bering Strait, and narrated their subsequent migration across the North American continent. This "Walam Olum" tells of battles with native peoples already in America before the Lenape arrived. People hearing of the account believed that the "original people" were the Mound Builders, and that the Lenape overthrew them and destroyed their culture. David Oestreicher later asserted that Rafinesque's account was a hoax. He argued that the Walam Olum glyphs derived from Chinese, Egyptian, and Mayan alphabets. Meanwhile, the belief that the Native Americans destroyed the mound-builder culture had gained widespread acceptance.
Another hoax, the "Kinderhook plates" "discovered" in 1843, involved material planted by a contemporary in Native American mounds. This hoax aimed to discredit the account of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith having translated an ancient book.
The Garden of Eden, it seems, is now definitely located. The site is in Ohio, "Adams" county, to be more precise...The Rev. Landon West of Pleasant Hill, O., a prominent and widely known minister of the Baptist church... arrives at the conclusion that this great work was created either by God himself or by man inspired by Him to make an everlasting object lesson of man's disobedience, Satan's perfidy and the results of sin and death. In support of this startling claim the Rev. Mr. West quotes Scripture and refers to Job 16:13: "By His spirit. He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent."
The Eden I found in a 1909 pamphlet by Reverend Landon West—the Serpent Mound earthwork that is now an Ohio state park—was still preserved for all to see, so I went...Details that fell outside of West's lifetime were hard to fit into the book: his son Dan West became the founder of the Heifer Project charity, and his accomplishments no doubt helped preserve the memory of his father's Garden of Eden.
Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (full title Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations) (1848) by the Americans Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis is a landmark in American scientific research, the study of the prehistoric indigenous mound builders of North America, and the early development of archaeology as a scientific discipline. Published in 1848, it was the Smithsonian Institution's first publication and the first volume in its Contributions to Knowledge series. The book had 306 pages, 48 lithographed maps and plates, and 207 wood engravings.Baytown culture
The Baytown culture was a Pre-Columbian Native American culture that existed from 300 to 700 CE in the lower Mississippi River Valley, consisting of sites in eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, Louisiana, and western Mississippi. The Baytown Site on the White River in Monroe County, Arkansas is the type site for culture. It was a Baytown Period culture during the Late Woodland period. It was contemporaneous with the Coastal Troyville and Troyville cultures of Louisiana and Mississippi (all three had evolved from the Marksville Hopewellian peoples) and the Fourche Maline culture and was succeeded by the Plum Bayou culture. Where the Baytown peoples built dispersed settlements, the Troyville people instead continued building major earthwork centers.Belle Glade culture
The Belle Glade culture, or Okeechobee culture, is an archaeological culture that existed from as early as 1000 BCE until about 1700 in the area surrounding Lake Okeechobee and in the Kissimmee River valley in the U.S. state of Florida.
Major archaeological sites of the Belle Glade culture include Belle Glade Mound, Big Mound City, the Boynton Mound complex, Fort Center, Ortona Mound and Tony's Mound. The Belle Glade site, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of the city of Belle Glade, which gave its name to the culture, and Big Mound City, 15 miles (24 km) south of Belle Glade, were partially excavated in 1933 and 1934 by a Civil Works Administration project supervised by Matthew Stirling. A report and analysis of the two sites was published by Gordon Willey in 1948. The best known site, Fort Center, was the subject of major excavations under the direction of William Sears during the 1970s. Other sites are known from test excavations and/or aerial surveys.There is little evidence to support the idea that there was a separate and distinct Belle Glade culture. The sites other than Fort Center necessary to support the theory have never been excavated in the almost sixty years after Sears' work and conclusions at Fort Center in the 1960s. The literature does however reveal an attempt by Sears and others to distance the Calusa culture from any and all of the earthwork projects in the Lake Okeechobee Basin area. Based on the archaeology from 1895 to 1945, a view of a single south Florida culture region was established, based on a predominant type of plain ceramics in the region as early as 950 BC in Perico Island and up to 1700 at Marco Island. By 1949 both Gordon Willet and John Goggin authored complete taxonomies and chronologies for the Glades region. Goggin's dates which began earlier, seem to be closer to the actual dates for the various southern sequences.In 1960, John Goggin and William Sturtevant argued that the Calusa and the lake culture worked together. The same decade, William Sears set out to disprove this commonly held view. In 1980 Sturtevant and Jerald Milanich changed the taxonomy adding two additional culture regions, Okeechobee and Caloosahatchee, making the Glade region smaller and more southern. Vague references to the monumental ceremonial mound complexes were used to support the change. No new archaeology and data resulted in the changed taxonomy. In 2000, state archaeologist Ryan Wheeler authored yet another south Florida taxonomy adding more regions and totally eliminating a Glades Region. Recently, University of Florida graduate student Nathan Lawres 2015, 2017, 2018), has undertaken research and dating of the Okeechobee region. Besides referencing the prehistoric inhabitants by name, the Mayaimi, Lawres sees "alignments" between the Calusa and the Mayaimi, thus bringing the archaeology full circle to the original view. Subsequent research will definitively prove or disprove the existence in fact of a separate Belle Glade culture beginning in 1000 BC and who engineered the monumental mound complexes independently.Deptford culture
The Deptford culture (800 BCE—700 CE) was an archaeological culture in the United States characterized by the appearance of elaborate ceremonial complexes, increasing social and political complexity, mound burial, permanent settlements, population growth, and an increasing reliance on cultigens.Earth lodge
An earth lodge is a semi-subterranean building covered partially or completely with earth, best known from the Native American cultures of the Great Plains and Eastern Woodlands. Most earth lodges are circular in construction with a dome-like roof, often with a central or slightly offset smoke hole at the apex of the dome. Earth lodges are well-known from the more-sedentary tribes of the Plains such as the Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara, but they have also been identified archaeologically among sites of the Mississippian culture in the eastern United States.Fort Walton culture
The Fort Walton culture is the term used by archaeologists for a late prehistoric Native American archaeological culture that flourished in southeastern North America from approximately 1200~1500 CE and is associated with the historic Apalachee people.Glades culture
The Glades culture is an archaeological culture in southernmost Florida that lasted from about 500 BCE until shortly after European contact. Its area included the Everglades, the Florida Keys, the Atlantic coast of Florida north through present-day Martin County and the Gulf coast north to Marco Island in Collier County. It did not include the area around Lake Okeechobee, which was part of the Belle Glade culture.
Two, or possibly three, areas at the extremities of the cultural area are recognized as variant districts: the Ten Thousand Islands district in southern coastal Collier County and northern Monroe County, the East Okeechobee district in eastern Martin and Palm Beach counties, and, with less certainty, the Florida Keys. At the time of first European contact, the Ten Thousand Islands district was part of the Calusa domain, the East Okeechobee district was occupied by the Jaega tribe, and the area of Broward and Miami-Dade counties was occupied by the Tequesta tribe. The inhabitants of the Florida Keys were called Matecumbes by the Spanish, but it is not clear how distinct they were from the Tequesta.
The Glades culture is defined almost entirely on the basis of pottery. Much of the pottery throughout the Glades culture period was undecorated. It is identified as Glades primarily by the character of the sand and grit included in the clay used to form the pottery. Pots decorated with puncture marks and incisions appeared after 500, but were not very common. Decorated pots disappeared from the record in about 1100. Pots with a new type of incised decoration appeared about 1200 and lasted for about 200 years. Pottery attributed to the St. Johns culture started appearing in the archeological record after that. On the basis of pottery sequences, the Glades culture period is divided into Glades I, 500 BCE to 750 CE, Glades II, 900 to 1200, and Glades III, 1200 to 1513.Leon-Jefferson culture
The Leon-Jefferson Culture is the term used by archaeologists for a protohistoric Native American archaeological culture that flourished in southeastern North America from approximately 1500–1704 CE and is associated with the historic Apalachee people. It was located in and named for the present day Leon and Jefferson counties in northern Florida of the Southeastern United StatesList of burial mounds in the United States
This is a list of notable burial mounds in the United States built by Native Americans. Burial mounds were built by many different cultural groups over a span of many thousands of years, beginning in the Late Archaic period and continuing through the Woodland period up to the time of European contact.Mississippian
Mississippian may refer to:
Mississippian (geology), a subperiod of the Carboniferous period in the geologic timescale, roughly 360 to 325 million years ago
Mississippian culture, a culture of Native American mound-builders from 900 to 1500 AD
Mississippian Railway, a short line railroad
A native of MississippiMississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American civilization that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 to 1600, varying regionally. It was composed of a series of urban settlements and satellite villages (suburbs) linked together by loose trading networks. The largest city was Cahokia, believed to be a major religious center.
The Mississippian way of life began to develop in the Mississippi River Valley (for which it is named). Cultures in the tributary Tennessee River Valley may have also begun to develop Mississippian characteristics at this point. Almost all dated Mississippian sites predate 1539–1540 (when Hernando de Soto explored the area), with notable exceptions being Natchez communities that maintained Mississippian cultural practices into the 18th century.Mound
A mound is a heaped pile of earth, gravel, sand, rocks, or debris. Most commonly, mounds are earthen formations such as hills and mountains, particularly if they appear artificial. A mound may be any rounded area of topographically higher elevation on any surface. Artificial mounds have been created for a variety of reasons throughout history, including ceremonial (platform mound), burial (tumulus), and commemorative purposes (e.g. Kościuszko Mound).Newark Earthworks
The Newark Earthworks in Newark and Heath, Ohio, consist of three sections of preserved earthworks: the Great Circle Earthworks, the Octagon Earthworks, and the Wright Earthworks. This complex, built by the Hopewell culture between 100 CE and 500 CE, contains the largest earthen enclosures in the world, and was about 3,000 acres in total extent. Less than 10 percent of the total site has been preserved since European-American settlement; this area contains a total of 206 acres (83 ha). It is operated as a state park by the Ohio History Connection. A designated National Historic Landmark, in 2006 the Newark Earthworks was also designated as the "official prehistoric monument of the State of Ohio."This is part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, one of 14 sites nominated in January 2008 by the U.S. Department of the Interior for potential submission by the US to the UNESCO World Heritage List.Plum Bayou culture
Plum Bayou culture is a Pre-Columbian Native American culture that lived in what is now east-central Arkansas from 650—1050 CE, a time known as the Late Woodland Period. Archaeologists defined the culture based on the Toltec Mounds site and named it for a local waterway.Poverty Point culture
Poverty Point culture is an archaeological culture that of a prehistoric indigenous peoples who inhabited a portion of the lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf coast from about 1730 - 1350 BC.Archeologists have identified more than 100 sites as belonging to this mound-builder culture, which also formed a large trading network throughout much of the eastern part of what is now the United States.Scrubfowl
The scrubfowl are the genus Megapodius of the mound-builders, stocky, medium-large chicken-like birds with small heads and large feet in the family Megapodiidae. They are found from south-east Asia to north Australia and islands in the west Pacific.
They do not incubate their eggs with their body heat in the orthodox way, but bury them. They are best known for building a massive mound of decaying vegetation, which the male attends, adding or removing litter to regulate the internal heat while the eggs hatch. The species in taxonomic order are:
†Pile-builder scrubfowl (Megapodius molistructor)
†Viti Levu scrubfowl (Megapodius amissus)In all of the above, the name "scrubfowl" is sometimes exchanged with "megapode". Traditionally, most have been listed as subspecies of M. freycinet, but today all major authorities consider this incorrect. Nevertheless, there are unresolved issues within the genus, and for example the taxon forstenii has been considered a subspecies of M. freycinet, a subspecies of M. cumingii, or a monotypic species. An additional species, the Moluccan megapode, has sometimes been placed in Megapodius, but today most place it in the genus Eulipoa instead. The maleo is also associated with these genera, and together the three form a group.St. Johns culture
The St. Johns culture was an archaeological culture in northeastern Florida, USA that lasted from about 500 BCE (the end of the Archaic period) until shortly after European contact in the 17th century. The St. Johns culture was present along the St. Johns River and its tributaries (including the Oklawaha River, and along the Atlantic coast of Florida from the mouth of the St. Johns River south to a point east of the head of the St. Johns River, near present-day Cocoa Beach, Florida. At the time of first European contact, the St. Johns culture area was inhabited by speakers of the Mocama (or Agua Salada), Agua Fresca and Acuera dialects of the Timucua language and by the Mayacas.Tocobaga
Tocobaga (occasionally Tocopaca) was the name of a chiefdom, its chief, and its principal town during the 16th century. The chiefdom was centered around the northern end of Old Tampa Bay, the arm of Tampa Bay that extends between the present-day city of Tampa and northern Pinellas County. The exact location of the principal town is believed to be the archeological Safety Harbor Site, which gives its name to the Safety Harbor culture, of which the Tocobaga are the most well-known group.
The name "Tocobaga" is often applied to all of the native peoples of the immediate Tampa Bay area during the first Spanish colonial period (1513-1763). While they were culturally very similar, most of the villages on the eastern and southern shores of Tampa Bay were likely affiliated with other chiefdoms, such as the Pohoy, Uzita, and Mocoso. Study of archaeological artifacts has provided insight into the everyday life of the Safety Harbor culture. However, little is known about the political organization of the early peoples of the Tampa Bay area. The scant historical records come exclusively from the journals and other documents made by members of several Spanish expeditions that traversed the area in the 1500s.
The Tocobaga and their neighbors disappeared from the historical record by the early 1700s, as diseases brought by European explorers decimated the local population and survivors were displaced by the raids and incursions of other indigenous groups from the north. The Tampa Bay area was virtually uninhabited for over a century.Upper Mississippian culture
Upper Mississippian culture, sometimes referred to as Upper Mississippian cultures (plural), is the archaeological designation for certain late prehistoric cultures of the indigenous peoples of eastern North America, located in the present day Midwestern United States region.
the Oneota tradition or culture - in the Mississippian culture, it flourished in the area around Lake Michigan and over into Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri
the Fort Ancient culture - in parts of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio
|West Virginia sites|
|Crab Orchard culture|
|Havana Hopewell culture|
|Kansas City Hopewell|
|Point Peninsula Complex|
|Swift Creek culture|
Santa Rosa-Swift Creek culture
|Other Hopewellian peoples|
|Exotic trade items|
|Coles Creek sites|
Coles Creek sites
|Plum Bayou sites|
|Fort Walton culture|