The Central Mound was the tallest one here – 19 feet when first measured in the 1840s. The building beneath was complex. A sunken room was entered along a ramp. When this room was no longer used, the builders left behind only a shallow basin, its clay lining baked red by many fires.

Some time later, leaving a set of posts in place, they filled the room, and built a new clay fire basin exactly above the old one. Upon a new floor, of puddled clay and sand, they erected a building, and laid out ten cremated burials on log-supported earthen platforms, roofed with bark.

Three elaborate burials in the Central Mound were probably respected leaders or elders. The objects left with them probably meant many things, including a person’s special work in life, their status, and their connections to the community and to powerful forces in nature. The amanita mushroom, known for its poisonous and hallucinogenic qualities, is represented as a copper effigy, and may suggest how a priest could make a dream journey to commune with the spirits of the dead.

Mound City



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