Crystal River Scarred Temple Mound, Lake Jackson Archaeological State Park, Leon County, FL

Florida's Incredible Indian Mounds

ICTMN Staff
10/13/11

Indian mounds dot our vast country, from the famous Cahokia Mounds nears Collinsville, Illinois, to the Rye Creek Ruin Platform Mound Complex in Rye, Arizona.  The mounds are ancient religious sites, gathering places, burial sites and, in in some cases, were the epicenters of whole indigenous cities.

Cahokia, the still mysterious ancient indigenous city that was built by the Mississippians has long been a draw for the serious archaeologists and the simply curious alike.  Larger then London was in 1250, Cahokia is the most famous Indian mound in the world, but it’s far from the oldest, and as interesting as it is it’s also far from the only one worth visiting.

Indian mounds are man-made structures built by prehistoric civilizations and remain today incredible, and sometimes inscrutable, feats of ancient engineering that still baffle scientists today.  This past May, Indian Country Today Media Network took photographer Frank McMains down to Louisiana to explore the state’s many Indian Mounds (there are more than 700), using the driving trail created by the Louisiana Ancient Mound Heritage Area and Trails Initiative to explore four of them.  Experts contend that the state might have such a surfeit of mounds because of the ecologically rich natural habitats that existed, drawing various tribes to the area. The rivers, streams, bayous, lakes, hills and forests of the verdant southeastern United States were bursting with game.

That’s why were excited to find a recent article in the St. Petersburg Times on the plethora of American Indian heritage sites in Florida.  John Capouya of the Times did such a nice job we thought we’d share a few of his insights on some of Florida’s most intriguing Indian mounds in our quest to bring these incredible places the attention they deserve.

Crystal River Archaeological State Park, Citrus County: A few miles north of Homosassa on Route 19, this 14-acre site, which includes platform and burial mounds, is thought to have been a ceremonial and gathering site for at least 1,600 years, between 200 B.C. and A.D. 1400 for the Deptford culture. For more information, visit crystalriverstateparks.org

Green Mound and Turtle Mound, Volusia County: Outside of Ponce Inlet on the Atlantic coast, the Green Mound is thought to have been built in 800 AD, with layered floors of clay, sand, and ash from the daily lives of it’s builders.  A half-hour drive south to Turtle Mound, situated on the Canaveral National Seashore, is a stunning 35,000 cubic yards of oyster shell, extending more than 600 feet along the Indian River shoreline, which was built by the Timucua.   For more information, visit Volusia.org/history/green or Volusia.org/history/turtle

Letchworth-Love Mounds, Jefferson County: Located near the southern end of Lake Miccosukee in South Monticello, the people of the Weeden Island culture built this flat-topped pyramid, that was once 50-feet high and 250-feet in diamtere, by carrying earth from a nearby pit – one basketful at a time.  Scientists estimate it took six or seven million trips.   For more information, visit floridastateparks.org

To read the full St. Petersburg Times article, click here.

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