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Mound Builders

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The rise of political and social complexity can be seen in the mound building cultures of eastern North America. Ames and Maschner listed the aspects of socio-political and cultural complexity as: sedentism, built structures, social stratification, storage, embryonic property rights, dispute-resolution strategies, and elaborated ritual or symbolic life. Mound builders were found in eastern North America, with the greatest concentration of mounds found in the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys. Mounds are a type of elaborate earthwork usually built of soil or shell with a variety of shapes, including flat topped, rounded, slight rises of the landscape, and geometric or animal shapes. Mounds were used for burials, territorial markers, some had temples…show more content…
The Archaic was a time of mostly small societies that engaged in intensive foraging, with the adoption of farming coming in the late Archaic. By the Middle Archaic we see more cemeteries with burials in mounds, a move towards sedentism, and groups claiming the rights to resources. During the Late Archaic there was a move towards population growth, the beginning of the Eastern Agricultural Complex, trade, pottery, storage, and sedentism. Two Archaic mound building societies were Watson Brake and Poverty Point. Watson Brake in Louisiana is one of the oldest mound sites in North America with dates of 3500 – 3000 B.C., with 11 mounds that are up to 25 feet, connected by ridges, interior ritual spaces, and was occupied year round. Poverty Point is located in northeastern Louisiana and was a pre-agricultural ceremonial center. Poverty Point covers 494 acres and took more than 1,236,007 cu ft of soil to construct (Fagan 2005: 418). Objects discovered at Poverty Point show that they took part in long distance trade and made use of a variety of exotic materials. These materials included: slate, copper, jasper, quartz, and as stated in our lecture there were materials coming from as far as 1,400 miles…show more content…
Cahokia is located near St. Louis and constructed numerous mounds. There were three major types of mounds found at Cahokia: platform, conical and ridge-top. One mound, called Monks Mound was enormous, it stood 100 ft. high and covered 16 acres. It is thought that this mound would have required many workers with mound experts supervising and took about 370,000 days to build (Fagan 2005: 472). Cahokia made improvements in agriculture through intercropping, and built a great plaza used for games and ceremonials that was the size of 35 football fields. Large public feasts were held at Cahokia. There are signs of people with a higher social status seen in where they lived and how they were buried. (Fagan 2005: 475). Mound 72 has the burial of a high-status male on a platform of 20,000 shell beads, with 800 arrowheads, copper and mica sheets, and 15 polished stone disks (Fagan 2005: 475). Cahokia had a large population of over 10,000 people and a three tier chiefdom. Moundville was occupied AD 1050 – 1450 and is located west-central Alabama. It had a large central plaza, a protective palisade, large mounds with numerous other earthworks, and over 3,000
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