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Chauga Mound

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Subject: Nikwasi, List of Mississippian sites, Caborn-Welborn culture, Mississippian culture, Tipton Phase
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Chauga Mound

Chauga Mound
38 OC 1
Chauga Mound38 OC 1 is located in South Carolina
Chauga Mound38 OC 1
Chauga Mound
38 OC 1
Location within Georgia today
Country  USA
Region Oconee County, South Carolina
Nearest town Westminster, South Carolina
Culture South Appalachian Mississippian culture
First occupied Middle Archaic
Period Jarett Phase (1100 to 1200)
Tugalo Phase (1500 to 1600)
Abandoned 18th century
Excavation and maintenance
Dates excavated 1953, 1958, 1959
Notable archaeologists Joseph R. Caldwell, Carl Miller, Arthur R. Kelly, Robert S. Neitzel
Architectural styles platform mound, plaza
Number of temples 1

The Chauga Mound (38OC1) is an archaeological site once located on the northern bank of the Tugaloo River 1,200 feet (370 m) north of the mouth of the Chauga River in Oconee County, South Carolina in the Lake Hartwell Basin. The mound is now inundated by Lake Hartwell. The mound and village portion of the site was built by peoples of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture (a regional variation of the Mississippian culture)[1]

Site description

The site is a mound and village that once sat on a natural levee about 100 feet (30 m) from the Tugaloo River at its confluence with the Chauga River.

Site chronology

There exist four distinct periods of occupation. The first period occurs during the Middle Archaic, as indicated by quartz and some scattered campsites. Phase two encompasses the first six levels of the mound and dates to the Jarett Phase (1100 to 1200), a local variation of the Etowah Culture. The third phase encompasses the final four stages of the mound and dates to the Tugalo Phase (1500 to 1600), a local manifestation of the Lamar Phase. The final period of occupation dates from the Estatoe Phase to the early 18th century and is associated with the historic Cherokee.[2]


Diagram showing mound construction sequence

Originally standing about 12 feet (3.7 m) in height, the platform mound itself was constructed in 10 stages, but extensive damage through erosion and amateur digging caused only the first four stages to have distinguishable form and purpose, while also decreasing the height of the mound to 8 feet (2.4 m). Stage 1 of the mound began as a low truncated rectangular pyramid about 2.2 feet (0.67 m) in height that was probably used as a dance platform or dias. The fill for this mound came from the midden area of a previous Woodland period settlement and was followed by a thinner semi-impermeable blue-grey clay cap. Stages 2–6 follow the same pattern. The clay cap had a low rim and trough around the base of the mound and in some cases extended to as much as 10 feet (3.0 m) from the base of the mound. The nature of the impervious clay and the trough to carry away rainwater helped to protect the interior basketloaded fill from erosion. At Stage 2 the mound was 45 feet (14 m) across at the base and with a summit roughly 25 feet (7.6 m) square and several feet higher than Stage 1. On top of this mound a structure was added. During these stages smooth boulders from the river were incorporated into the mound, possibly to help stabilize the shape. Stages 7–10 did not have the clay cap feature and mound construction only seems to occur on the southern and eastern sides of the mound. These stages may have been to add an apron-like extension or ramp out from the main body of the mound.[3]



There are more than 60 burials at the Chauga site and there are over 30 burials within the mound itself. The mound contains artifacts ranging from stone tools, potsherds and ornaments made of shells, rocks and minerals, many of which were deposited as grave goods with the burials.[3] Among the artifacts found at the site is a 30 millimetres (1.2 in) steatite plate with an anthropozoomorphic human headed winged figure of a style often associated with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.[4]


University of Georgia with the hope of salvaging as much information as possible before the Hartwell Basin flooded the site.

See also


  1. ^ "Southeastern Prehistory:Mississippian and Late Prehistoric Period".  
  2. ^ Hally, David J. (1998-08-01). "Chauga". In Gibbon, Guy; Kenneth M., Ames. Archaeology of Prehistoric Native America: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 143–144.  
  3. ^ a b  
  4. ^ Clemens de Baillou (October 1968). "Notes on Symbolism". Southern Indian Studies (University of North Carolina) 20: 14. 

External links

  • The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540-1760 By Robbie Ethridge and Charles Hudson
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