Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shiloh Indian Mounds - Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee

The ground on which the Battle of Shiloh was fought was actually of great importance hundreds of years before that Civil War engagement.

Archaeologists believe that a section of the battlefield, overlooking the Tennessee River, was once the central town of a powerful Native American chiefdom that vanished an estimated 800 years ago. Because the Shiloh land was preserved as part of one of the country's first national military parks, the Shiloh Indian Mounds have also been protected from plowing, erosion, looting and other threats. As a result, it is one of the best preserved Mississippian era Native American sites in the country.

All but one of the mounds, which have been designated a National Historic Landmark, are pyramidal in form, with flat tops on which structures of various types once stood. The other mound, oval in shape, was used as a burial site for high status individuals. The entire site was surrounded by a strong palisade made of upright poles plastered with clay.

Surrounding the mounds, the villages of the town were built of "wattle and daub" construction, meaning basically that their walls were made by weaving smaller branches through stronger upright posts and then plastering the whole with clay. When the town was abandoned 800 years ago, the houses gradually collapsed, but the rings left by the falling walls can still be seen today. Shiloh is one of the few places where above ground traces of prehistoric Native American structures are visible.

To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/shiloh4.

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