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Mound 34

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Title: Mound 34  
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Subject: Mississippian copper plates, Mississippian culture, Joe Bell Site, Lunsford-Pulcher Archeological Site, Routh Mounds
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Mound 34

Mound 34
Mound 34 is located in Illinois
Mound 34
Mound 34
Location within Illinois today
Country  USA
Region Madison County, Illinois
Nearest town Collinsville, Illinois
Culture Middle Mississippian culture
Excavation and maintenance
Dates excavated 1950, 1956, 1999-2010,
Notable archaeologists James B. Griffin, Albert Spaulding, Gregory Perino
Architectural styles platform mound, copper workshop

Mound 34 is a small platform mound located roughly 400 metres (1,300 ft) to the east of Monks Mound at Cahokia Mounds near Collinsville, Illinois. Excavations near Mound 34 from 2002–2010 revealed the remains of a copper workshop, although the one of a kind discovery had been previously found in the late 1950s by archaeologist Gregory Perino, but lost for 60 years. It is so far the only remains of a copper workshop found at a Mississippian culture archaeological site.[1]

Construction sequence

From the Emergent Mississippian period (beginning approximately 800 CE) to the [4] The mound displayed signs of at least one further building episode during the Sand Prairie Phase (1275 - 1350 CE), when an additional cap of earth was added over the mound.[3]

S.E.C.C. connections and avian ceremonialism

Engraved shell cup with avian imagery, from Spiro Mounds

Artifacts found during excavations of the site included "Great Mortuary" at Spiro in the early 1930s. Radiocarbon dating of Mound 34 has shown that the S.E.C.C. material from the mound was deposited earlier than materials from Spiro and places the origin of the Braden style at the Cahokia site.[3][5] Other examples of avian related ceremonialism at the overall Cahokia site include two engraved stone tables with birdmen on them and the elite burial found under Mound 72. This burial was of a tall man in his early 40s laid out on an elevated platform covered with a bed of over 20,000 shell beads in the shape of a falcon.[6]

Copper workshop

Avian themed Mississippian culture repoussé copper plates

The general area of the copper workshop was first discovered by Perino in the late 1950s and definitively located by modern excavations in the 2000s. Located just to the north of the mound, it consisted of a typical Mississippian wall trench structure measuring 5.45 metres (17.9 ft) along its north/south axis and 4.42 metres (14.5 ft) along its east/west axis. The structure had an internal surface area measuring roughly 24 square metres (260 sq ft) and sunk 50 centimetres (1.6 ft) into the ground. The walls of the building had unusual gaps, now thought by archaeologists to be vents for air flow into the building or to let toxic gases from the heating of copper escape. A variety of raw copper nuggets, small pieces of worked copper, and stone tools for the working of copper were found in the structure, and it is now believed by researchers that the building was used for the processing of raw copper into finished products.[2] The remains of three tree stumps were also found and are thought to have been used to hold anvil stones. Analysis of copper found during excavations showed that it had been Spiro plates from Oklahoma are associated with the Greater Braden Style and are thought to have been made in Cahokia in the 13th century.[3][9][10][11]


Although noted on early maps of the Cahokia site and tested by Warren K. Moorehead in 1921 and 1922,[2] the mound was not excavated until 1950 by James B. Griffin and Albert Spaulding. Their small excavations produced large amounts of pottery sherds, the remains of the first engraved shell cup found at Cahokia, and fragments of repousséd copper plates. In 1956 the mound underwent further excavations by Gregory Perino, funded by the Gilcrease Museum. He uncovered numerous shell fragments and a bed of charcoal he thought was for "ceremonial fires". He also found an area littered with copper fragments, several copper stained posts and described the area as turning green upon exposure to the air. He described the feature as a possible copper workshop. In the late 1990s archaeologists began examining Perinos field notes and artifacts collected from Mound 34 in order to further refine the Mississippian Art and Ceremonial Complex, define its connection to Cahokia, and find the theorized copper workshop. The site of the mound was relocated (poor mapping by past archaeologists and agricultural flattening had made the exact location tenuous), and an extensive series of excavations were begun at the site from 1998 to 2012. Excavations in 1999 discovered several raw copper nuggets and more pieces of worked copper, confirming the location as a copper workshop, the first confirmed find of this sort at any Mississippian site.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b  
  2. ^ a b c d Kelly, John E.; Kelly, Lucretia S.; Brown, James (2009). Summary of 2008 Field Excavations to Locate the Copper Workshop in the Mound 34 Area (Technical report). Central Mississippi Valley Archaeological Research Institute. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Kelly, John E.; Brown, James A.; Hamlin, Jenn M.; Kelly, Lucretia S.; Kozuch, Laura; Parker, Kathryn; Van Nest, Julieann. "Mound 34 : The Context for the Early Evidence of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex at Cahokia". In King, Adam. Southeastern Ceremonial Complex : Chronology, Content, Context. University of Alabama Press. pp. 57–87.  
  4. ^ "Mound 34". Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  5. ^ Nappier, Terri. "Unearthing Clues to Ancient Society". Washington Magazine ( 
  6. ^ Fowler, Melvin L.; Rose, Jerome; Leest, Barbara Vander; Ahler, Steven R. The Mound 72 Area: Dedicated and Sacred Space in Early Cahokia (Technical report). Illinois State Museum. 54. 
  7. ^ "Gahagan Long-nosed god maskette". University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  8. ^ "Aztalan – Wisconsin's Middle Mississippian Outpost". Milwaukee Public Museum. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  9. ^ Robb, Matthew H. (March 2010). "Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum-Spotlight Series March 2010".  
  10. ^ King, Adam (2004). "Power and the Sacred : Mound C and the Etowah Chiefdom". In Townsend, Richard F.; Sharp, Robert V. Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand : American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 151.  
  11. ^ Bolfing, Christopher (May 1, 2010). The Paradigm of the Periphery in Native North America (Thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, University College, University Honors Program. pp. 67–68. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 

External links

  • Fowler, Melvin L. (1997). The Cahokia Atlas: A Historical Atlas of Cahokia Archaeology. pp. 83–84.  
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