|28 July 2006
Ancient village unearthed in Mississippi
Archaeologists believe they have uncovered evidence of an ancient village, possibly dating back to the time of Christ, that once thrived along the shores of this Gulf Coast community (Mississippi, USA). The artifacts were unearthed during recent efforts to rebuild a thoroughfare and major bridge heavily damaged last year by Hurricane Katrina.
Marco Giardino, an archaeologist acting as the city's liaison on a dig to preserve the ancient remains, said as many as 400 people may have lived in the village. "That area was very strategic and would have allowed them to travel, fish and hunt," he said. "It's on high ground at the entrance to the bay, which would allow them to see people coming and they could defend themselves a lot easier." Giardino said spearheads and pottery found in the area suggest an Indian tribe established the village sometime between 200 BCE and 400 CE.
Experts say the center of the village would have been somewhere around the foot of the U.S. 90 bridge over the Bay of St. Louis, where archaeologists have discovered an Indian mound that is believed to be a burial site. Several tiny man-made vaults or pockets may have been cut through the mound to bury the bodies of high-ranking village members and possibly their belongings.
One reason the mound has remain unearthed for more than 2,000 years is its lackluster appearance. Early French settlers likely believed the mound, at about 50 feet wide and less than six feet tall, was a natural ground formation. For most of the previous century, the mound was covered by large oak trees and hidden behind massive beachfront homes. Katrina destroyed most of the homes in Bay St. Louis, including the ones that had protected the mound for so long.
The mound is essentially off limits to researchers because it sits on private property, but a lot of the relics found so far have been scattered through the village area.S cientists have located ancient garbage heaps, archaeologically known as 'middens,' next to places where they believe village dwellings once stood. Archaeologists can often find evidence left in a midden of what the villagers ate, which could give important clues about the civilization itself.
Mississippi transportation department archaeologists, who are leading the search for artifacts, declined to comment on the work for fear of grave robbers and treasure hunters.
Source: Deseret News (26 July 2006)
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