Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lake Jackson Mounds - Tallahassee, Florida

The site of modern Tallahassee has been the location of capital cities for thousands of years.

Long before this site was selected to become the capital of Florida, the Tallahassee area was the center of the Apalachee Indians. This Native American tribe battled early Spanish explorers such as Panfilo de Narvaez and Hernando de Soto. Their ancestors, it is believed, were responsible for the development of the major civilization that had its center at the Lake Jackson Mounds in the northern edge of Tallahassee.

Now preserved as a state park, the Lake Jackson site features two large platform mounds, what remains of a massive ceremonial complex. Archaeologists believe this site was occupied during the Mississippian period (A.D. 900-1500), but was abandoned for unknown reasons in around 1500, just a few decades before Spanish explorers penetrated the region.

Excavations here revealed the burials of high status individuals believed to have been chiefs and priests. Some of the individuals were buried with elaborate copper breastplates, made from metal brought down from the mountains of North Georgia and Tennessee. These presence of such items at the site indicates that its occupants had vast trade networks.

The site now features interpretive displays, a nature trail, wooden stairs leading to the tops of the two mounds and a beautiful open area on the plaza of the ancient city. For more information, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/lakejackson1.

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