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America's Top 10 Mound Sites

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Author Topic: America's Top 10 Mound Sites  (Read 90 times)
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« on: May 21, 2010, 03:00:10 pm »

#4 Serpent Mound, OH
Serpent Mound, Ohio • Effigy Mound & Burial Mounds • Hopewell
Serpent Mound State Memorial Park—located on Rt. 73, 4 miles northwest of Locust Grove, OH.
Serpent Mound is a 1348-foot long earthen effigy of an uncoiling snake. The snake is formed from a 20-foot wide, 4 to 5-feet high embankment of earth with stone lying at the inner base. The snake is depicted with an open mouth and a circular embankment inside the mouth depicts the snake swallowing an egg. The effigy is on top of a 90-foot high promontory above Ohio Brush Creek and steep cliffs are found on several sides of the bluff. The entire hill is a magnetic anomaly. For many years it has been assumed that Serpent Mound was a Hopewell site that probably dated to 500 B.C.; however, many now believe the structure may be related to a later Fort Ancient culture, perhaps around A.D. 1000. The snake is aligned to Polaris and the head and egg are aligned to the sunset at the summer solstice. Other solar alignments were also incorporated into the undulations of the serpent’s body. Serpent Mound comes in at #4 because it is the largest animal effigy mound in the world.
#3 Cahokia, IL
Cahokia Mounds State Park • Mound Complex & City • Mississippian
State Park—located off 7850 Collinsville Rd., Collinsville, IL just east of East St. Louis, IL.
For its sheer vastness and massive scale, no Native American mound site compares to Cahokia. Cahokia was the largest and most powerful of all Mississippian era chiefdoms extending its power from Wisconsin down the entire Mississippi River valley. The city was inhabited from A.D. 700 to 1400. Estimates of the city’s population vary; however, it is likely that about 20,000 people once inhabited the site in its vast residential areas, which covered 6-square miles. Houses in the residential areas were arranged in rows along vast plaza areas. The site originally contained over 120 mounds but only 68 mounds are inside the park. Other mounds dot the town and agricultural land around the park. Estimates are that over 50 million cubic feet of earth were used to construct the mounds at Cahokia.
The largest mound at Cahokia is called Monks Mound named for a French Trappist Monk who lived at the site in historic times. The four-terraced mound was built in stages over a 300-year period. It rises to 100-feet and covers over an astonishing 14-acres—larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza. The base of Monk’s Mound is 955-feet by 775-feet. By way of contrast, the Great Pyramid at Giza has a square base of 756-feet and covers 13-acres. On the summit of Monks Mound a huge temple structure stood. The building is estimated to have been 105-feet long, 48-feet wide, and 50-feet tall. Cahokia comes in at #3 because of its vast size and preservation.
#2 Poverty Point, LA
Poverty Point, Louisiana • Mounds & Earthworks • Poverty Point
Poverty Point State Commemorative Area & Museum—located near Epps. LA. From the LA Hwy. 17 exit off Interstate 20 go north to Epps and follow La. 577 to the site.
Poverty Point was known before 1933, but it was that year when archaeologist James Ford noticed unusual semi-circular patterns on a U.S. Army aerial photograph of the site. Subsequent examination of the site revealed a three-quarter mile long set of earthworks arranged into a semi-octagon. The earthworks were found to be elevated terraces upon which small houses had been erected. The terraces were all at least 6-feet high with a uniform 80-foot width and were evenly spaced about 150-feet apart. The combined length of the terraces was just under 8 miles. On the western side of the terraces a massive mound had been built. This mound is thought to be a bird effigy depicting an eagle with its wings spread. The mound is 72-feet tall and measures 640-feet from wing tip to wing tip and 710-feet from the head to the tail. The mound and embankments are believed to have been built around 1800 B.C. However, recent research now points to part of the huge mound possibly being erected as early as 3800 B.C. An associated mound known as the Lower Jackson Mound, located about 1.6 miles to the south, has also been dated to about 3800 B.C.—making it the oldest known mound in America.
The habitation terraces in the main Poverty Point complex were broken by straight line walkways, which were used for astronomical or solar alignments. The rising and setting of the sun on the equinoxes is seen from the paths of the walkways. The amount of earth used to construct Poverty Point is estimated at 20 million basket loads.
Archaeologists suspect an Olmec influence at Poverty Point. Some of the unique artifacts found at Poverty Point are similar to artifacts found at Olmec sites along the Gulf of Mexico in Mexico. It is also known that the people of Poverty Point engaged in extensive trading. Materials from Ohio, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, and North Carolina have been excavated from the site. Poverty Point is ranked #2 because of its unique structures and being the oldest known mound site in America.
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