Mound Builder is a general term referring to the American Indians who constructed various styles of earthen mounds for burial, residential and ceremonial purposes. For indigenous peoples in the United States other than Hawaii and Alaska see also Native Americans in the United States. A mound is a general term for an artificial heaped Pile of Earth, Gravel, Sand, rocks These included Archaic, Woodland period (Adena and Hopewell cultures), and Mississippian period Pre-Columbian cultures dating from roughly 3000 BC to the 16th century AD, and living in the Great Lakes region, the Ohio River region, and the Mississippi River region. In the sequence of North American Pre-Columbian cultural stages first proposed by Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips in 1958 the Archaic period The Adena culture was a Pre-Columbian Native American culture that existed from 1000 BC to 200 BC in a time known as the early Woodland Period. The Hopewell tradition (also incorrectly called the "Hopewell culture" is the term used to describe common aspects of the Native American culture that flourished along The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences The Laurentian Great Lakes are a chain of freshwater lakes located in eastern North America, on the Canada–United States border. The Ohio River is the largest Tributary by volume of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is the second longest River in the United States, with a length of from its source in Lake Itasca in Minnesota to
The term "mound builder" was also applied to an imaginary race believed to have constructed these earthworks, because Americans from the 16th-19th centuries generally thought that American Indians did not build the mounds.
The namesake cultural trait of the mound builders was the building of mounds and other earthworks. In Archaeology, earthworks are artificial changes in land level often known as lumps and bumps. These burial and ceremonial structures were typically flat-topped pyramids or platform mounds, flat-topped or rounded cones, elongated ridges, and sometimes a variety of other forms. A pyramid is a Building where the upper surfaces are triangular and converge on one point A platform mound is any earthwork or Mound intended to support a structure or activity The best known flat-topped pyramidal structure, which is also the largest pre-Columbian earthwork north of Mexico at over 100 feet (30 m) tall, is Monk's Mound at Cahokia. The United Mexican States ( or commonly Mexico (ˈmɛksɪkoʊ () is a federal constitutional Republic in North America. Monk's Mound is the largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in America north of Mesoamerica. Some effigy mounds were made in unusual shapes, such as the outline of culturally significant animals. Sites in the US of similar history may be found at Indian Mounds Park An effigy mound is a raised pile of earth built in the shape of a stylized animal symbol The most famous effigy mound, Serpent Mound in southern Ohio, is 5 feet (1. The Great Serpent Mound is a 1330-foot-long three-foot-high prehistoric Effigy mound located on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along 5 m) tall, 20 (6 m) wide, over 1,330 feet (405 m) long, and shaped as a serpent.
The mound builders included many different tribal groups and chiefdoms, probably involving a bewildering array of beliefs and unique cultures, united only by the shared architectural practice of mound construction. A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally consists of a Social group existing before the development of or outside of States Many anthropologists use A chiefdom is a type of complex society of varying degrees of centralization that is led by an individual known as a chief. This practice, believed to be associated with a cosmology that had a cross-cultural appeal, may indicate common cultural antecedents. Cosmology (from Greek grc κοσμολογία - grc κόσμος kosmos, "universe" and grc -λογία -logia) is study The first mound building is an early marker of incipient political and social complexity among the cultures in the Eastern United States. The Eastern Half of The United States, the American East, or simply the East is traditionally defined as the states east of the Mississippi River.
The most complete reference for these earthworks is Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, written by Ephraim G. Squier, Edwin H. Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (full title Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations) by Ephraim George Squier ( June 17, 1821 &ndash April 17, 1888) was an American Archaeologist. Davis and Samuel Morton. It was published in 1848 by the Smithsonian Institution. 1848 CE in Archaeology Explorations First scientific expedition visits Tikal Excavations The Smithsonian Institution (smɪθsoʊnɪən is an educational and research institute and associated Museum complex administered and funded by the Government of Since many of the features they documented have since been destroyed or diminished by farming and development, their surveys, sketches and descriptions are still used by modern archaeologists. Archaeology, archeology, or archæology (from Greek grc ἀρχαιολογία archaiologia – grc ἀρχαῖος archaīos All of their sites located in Kentucky came from the manuscripts of C.S. Rafinesque. The Commonwealth of Kentucky ( is a state located in the East Central United States of America. Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz, as he is known in Europe ( October 22 1783 - September 18 1840) was a nineteenth-century A smaller regional study in 1931 by author and archaeologist Fred Dustin charted and examined the mounds and Ogemaw Earthworks near Saginaw, Michigan. Fred Dustin ( October 12 1866 &ndash May 15 1957) was a writer focusing on the American West, in particular George Armstrong Archaeological survey and recording of mounds is an ongoing task.
Mound builder cultures can be divided into roughly three eras:
Poverty Point in what is now Louisiana is a prominent example of early archaic mound builder construction (c. This article is about the US National Monument in the lower Mississippi valley for the geographical feature in Massachusetts also called Poverty Point see Fairhaven The State of Louisiana ( or, État de Louisiane, pronounced) is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America 2500 BC - 1000 BC). While earlier Archaic mound centers, Poverty Point remains one of the best-known early examples. Watson Brake is an arrangement of human-made Mounds located in the floodplain of the Ouachita River near Monroe in northern Louisiana, United
The Archaic period was followed by the Woodland period (c. 1000 BC). Some well-understood examples would be the Adena culture of Ohio and nearby states and the subsequent Hopewell culture known from Illinois to Ohio and renowned for their geometric earthworks. The Adena culture was a Pre-Columbian Native American culture that existed from 1000 BC to 200 BC in a time known as the early Woodland Period. Ohio ( is a Midwestern state of the United States. As part of the Great Lakes region, Ohio has long been a cultural and geographical crossroads The Hopewell tradition (also incorrectly called the "Hopewell culture" is the term used to describe common aspects of the Native American culture that flourished along The State of Illinois ( roughly ill-i-NOY is a state of the United States of America, the 21st to be admitted to the Union. The Adena and Hopewell were not, however, the only mound building peoples during this time period. There were contemporaneous mound building cultures throughout the Eastern United States.
Around 900-1450 AD the Mississippian culture developed and spread through the Eastern United States, primarily along the river valleys. The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern The location where the Mississippian culture is first clearly developed is located in Illinois, and is referred to today as Cahokia.
Through the mid-nineteenth century, Native Americans were generally not believed to have built the mounds of the eastern U. S.
A key work in the widespread recognition of the true origins of the mounds was the lengthy 1894 report of Cyrus Thomas of the Bureau of American Ethnology, which concluded that the prehistoric earthworks of the eastern United States were the work of Native Americans. Cyrus Thomas ( July 27, 1825 &ndash1910 was a US ethnologist and entomologist prominent in the late 19th century and noted for his The Bureau of American Ethnology (originally Bureau of Ethnology was established in 1879 by an act of Congress for the purpose of transferring archives records and materials A small number of people had earlier reached similar conclusions: Thomas Jefferson, for example, excavated a mound and noted similarities between mound builder funeral practices and the funeral practices of Native Americans in his time. Thomas Jefferson (April 13 1743 – July 4 1826 was the third President of the United States (1801–1809 the principal author of the Declaration of Independence
Several alternate explanations were forwarded as to the origins of the mound builders:
Benjamin Smith Barton proposed the theory that the mound builders were Vikings who came to America and eventually disappeared. Benjamin Smith Barton ( February 10, 1766 - December 19, 1815) was an American Botanist and Physician. A Viking is one of the Norse ( Scandinavian Explorers Warriors Merchants, and pirates who raided and colonized wide areas
Other people believed that they were Greeks, Africans, Chinese or assorted Europeans. The Greeks ( Greek: Έλληνες) are a Nation and Ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighbouring regions The term African people can refer to people who live in Africa, or people who trace their ancestry to Indigenous inhabitants of Africa. Chinese civilization originated in various city-states along the Yellow River ( valley in the Neolithic era The European peoples are the various Nations and Ethnic groups of Europe. The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were often given credit for the mounds by Euroamericans who embraced a Biblical worldview. The phrase Ten Lost Tribes of Israel refers to the ancient Tribes of Israel that disappeared from the Biblical account after the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Israel topics. Etymology According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word bible is from Latin biblia, traced from the same word through Medieval Latin and Late Latin
The Book of Mormon (first published in 1830) claims that a Mesopotamian group possibly around 3100 and 2200 B. The Book of Mormon is a Sacred text of the churches in the Latter Day Saint movement. C. (called Jaredites), and Israelite groups in 590 B. The Jaredites are a people written of in the Book of Mormon, principally in the Book of Ether. C. (called Nephites, Lamanites and Mulekites) settled in the Americas and built magnificent cities, only to be later destroyed by warfare around A. The Nephites are the De facto protagonists of the Book of Mormon. According to the The Book of Mormon, a Lamanite is a member of one of four main groups described in the book According to the Book of Mormon, Mulek is the only surviving son of Zedekiah, D. 385. Mormon apologists claim that mound builder areas may be one of the theoretical places in which Bountiful stood, a prominent city named in the Book of Mormon, though most LDS scholars believe the Book of Mormon lands to be located in Central America in the regions occupied by the Olmec and Maya cultures. There are two historical locations referred to as Bountiful that are related to the Book of Mormon. The Olmec were an ancient Pre-Columbian people living in the Tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in what are roughly the modern-day states The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican Civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the Pre-Columbian Americas The hill Cumorah (near present-day Manchester, New York) is said to be the place where the Book of Mormon record was buried, sometime after A. Cumorah (also called Mormon Hill) is a Drumlin near Manchester, New York, where Joseph Smith Jr Manchester is a Town in Ontario County, New York, USA. The population was 9258 at the 2000 census D. 421. The claims recorded in the Book of Mormon have never been verified by any archaeological evidence satisfactory to non-Mormon scientists.
Other groups that have developed explanations about the mound builders are certain sects affiliated with the Black nationalist Moorish Science philosophy. They argue that the mound builders were an ancient advanced Black civilization that developed the legendary continents of Atlantis and Mu as well as ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica. Atlantis (in Greek,, "island of Atlas " is the name of a Legendary Island, first mentioned in Plato 's dialogues Mu, as the name of a sunken Pacific Ocean Continent, was first used by James Churchward in his 1926 book "The Lost Continent of Mu Motherland Like other mound builder explanations, these black groups also posit that the American Indians were too uncivilized and unable to develop cities and the technology necessary for building these mounds.
Reverend Landon West claimed that Serpent Mound in Ohio was built by God. The Great Serpent Mound is a 1330-foot-long three-foot-high prehistoric Effigy mound located on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along He believed that God built the mound himself and placed it in Eden, which apparently was in Ohio.
Some people went as far as to attribute the mounds to mythical cultures: Lafcadio Hearn suggested that the mounds were built by people from the lost continent of Atlantis. Patrick Lafcadio Hearn ( June 27, 1850 - September 26, 1904) also known as after gaining Japanese citizenship was an author best known Atlantis (in Greek,, "island of Atlas " is the name of a Legendary Island, first mentioned in Plato 's dialogues
The mound builder explanations were not just a simple hoaxes but an honest misinterpretation of real data from valid sources. These explanations were widely accepted by scholars and laymen. Reference to an alleged race appears in the poem "The Prairies" (1832) by William Cullen Bryant 
The removal of most Indians from the mound builder regions by the 1830s, by means of the Trail of Tears, was partly justified by the theory that the Indians destroyed the mound builders. William Cullen Bryant (November 3 1794 - June 12 1878 was an American romantic poet, journalist and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post. The Trail of Tears was the forced relocation of Native Americans from their homelands to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma in the Western United States Because people thought that the mound builders were sometimes believed to be ancient Europeans, the removal of the savage Indian tribes was justified in order to reclaim their land, as well as to ensure the safety of civilization.
One was the belief the American Indians were simple beings that could not have constructed such magnificent earthworks and artifacts. The stone, metal, and clay artifacts were thought to be too complex for the primitive Indians to make. However, in the American Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest, there were numerous Indian cultures that were sedentary and participated in agriculture. Numerous Indian towns even had walls surrounding them for defense. If they were capable of this type of construction, building mounds should have been no more difficult. People who believed that the Indians were not responsible for the earthworks also used the more plausible argument that they could have not built them because they were nomadic peoples who followed their food. Nomadic people, (from the νομάδες nomádes, "those who let pasture herds" also known as nomads, are communities of people that In this view, they could not have devoted the time and effort to construct mounds and other time-consuming projects.
When Europeans first arrived in America they never witnessed the American Indians building mounds; and when asked about the mounds, most of the Indians did not know anything about them. Yet there were numerous written accounts about the Indians' construction of the mounds by Europeans. One detailed account was by Garcilaso de la Vega, who wrote about how they built the mounds and the temples that were placed on top of the mounds. For the Peruvian writer Garcilaso de la Vega see Inca Garcilaso de la Vega Garcilaso de la Vega (c There were even French expeditions that stayed with Indian societies who built mounds.
People also claimed that the Indians were not the mound builders because the mounds and related artifacts were older than the Indian culture itself. Caleb Atwater's misunderstanding of stratigraphy led him to believe that the mound builders were a much older civilization than the Indians. Caleb Atwater (December 25 1778 &ndash March 13 1867 was an American archaeologist historian and politician whose career is associated with the state of Ohio. Stratigraphy, a branch of Geology, studies rock layers and layering ( stratification) In his book, Antiquities Discovered in the Western States (1820), Atwater claims that Indian remains are always found right beneath the surface of the earth. Since the artifacts associated with the mound builders are found fairly deep in the ground, Atwater argued that they must be from a different group of people. The discovery of metal artifacts further convinced people that the mound builders were not Native Americans because the Indians were not known to engage in metallurgy. Metallurgy is a domain of Materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their This was another ignorant perception that was based on the assumption that all Indian cultures are similar. Some artifacts that were found in relation to the mounds were inscribed with symbols. The Europeans did not know of any Indian cultures that had a writing system, so they assumed it was another group who created them.
Several hoaxes were based on the mound builders.
In 1860, David Wyrick discovered the "Keystone tablet", containing Hebrew language inscriptions written on it in Newark, Ohio. Newark is a city in and the County seat of Licking County, Ohio, United States, 33 miles (53 km east of Columbus, at the junction Soon after, he found the "Newark Decalogue Stone" nearby, also claimed to contain Hebrew. The Newark Holy Stones are a set of artifacts discovered near Newark Ohio by David Wyrick in 1860 It was later discovered that Reverend John W. McCarty created these "Newark Holy Stones" and put them in a place where Wyrick would find them. The Newark Holy Stones are a set of artifacts discovered near Newark Ohio by David Wyrick in 1860
Another hoax related to the mound builders was the discovery of the Davenport tablets by Reverend Jacob Gass. These also bore inscriptions on them that later were found to be fake.
The Walam Olum hoax had considerable influence in the mound builders. The Walam Olum, usually translated as "Red Record" or "Red Score" is purportedly a Lenape (also called "Delaware" Native American historical narrative Constantine Samuel Rafinesque published in 1836 his translation of a text he claimed had been written in pictographs on wooden tablets. Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz, as he is known in Europe ( October 22 1783 - September 18 1840) was a nineteenth-century This text explained the origin of the Lenape Indians in Asia, told of their passage over the Bering Strait, and narrated their subsequent migration across the North American continent. The shannon (later named Delaware Indians by Europeans were in the 17th century organized bands of Native American peoples with shared cultural and linguistic The Bering Strait (Берингов пролив Beringov proliv) is a sea Strait between Cape Dezhnev, Russia, the easternmost point (169°43' This “Walam Olum” tells of battles with native peoples already in America before the Lenape arrived. It was assumed by others that these original people were the mound builders, and that the Lenape Indians overthrew them and destroyed their culture. David Oestreicher later branded Rafinesque's story a hoax, arguing that the Walam Olum glyphs derive from Chinese, Egyptian, and Mayan alphabets. The Maya script, also known as Maya hieroglyphs, was the writing system of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica, presently Meanwhile, the belief that the Native Americans destroyed the mound builder culture had earned widespread acceptance.
The Kinderhook Plates ("discovered" in 1843) were another hoax planted in Native American mounds. The Kinderhook plates were a set of 6 small bell-shaped pieces of brass with strange engravings discovered in 1843 in an Indian mound near Kinderhook Illinois. This hoax, however, had the aim of discrediting the supposed translation powers of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.