| 1 January 2012
Better view of Mississippi Indian mounds
Local archaeologists and volunteers are removing decades of dense overgrowth from prehistoric Native American earthworks in Indian Mounds Park (Quincy, Illinois, USA) - one of the best preserved complexes still evident in the Upper Mississippi River valley. The project began in November and will continue into spring. The mounds and nearby earthworks date from 200 BCE to 1000 CE. The state may have had as many as 10,000 mounds, but only about 500 are left - many on private land.
Work has so far revealed a terraced embankment with an enclosure surrounding three of the mounds that was only hinted at in University of Chicago archaeologist survey work done in the 1920s.
Steve Tieken, president of the Quincy-based North American Archaeological Institute, says there are 23 mounds within Quincy's park system. "We did discover one large major mound that was previously undocumented and the remnants of two to three mounds".
Concerned with the overall condition of the mounds and their long-term future, Tieken led an effort to reclaim them beginning in 2009.
Volunteers tried to assess the mounds, scaling ladders and trees to get the most accurate measurements. "It was an arduous process to measure, to see how they've changed. Even though they're protected, natural factors take their toll," says Dave Nolan, of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey. "One can only imagine what the terraced enclosure must have looked like as you approached up and down river along the Mississippi. It would have been visible for miles and been an awe-inspiring landmark."
Nolan adds, "People can now come to Quincy and view these spectacular earthen monuments in a manner closer to that envisioned by the original builders".
Edited from Quincy Herald-Wing (26 December 2011)
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