Friday, June 7, 2013

Etowah Indian Mounds: Mound B & C

Etowah Indian Mounds from the plaza

Construction probably began on Etowah's oldest, largest mound--Mound A--about 1000 AD. Around one or two centuries later, Mound B was begun as a small platform mound about half its final size. After the village was abandoned for a short period, construction began again between 1250-1325.

Mound B
Mound B sits perpendicular to Mound A, with its back to the Etowah River.

The Etowah River from the top of Mound B.

Like Mound A, Mound B is a temple mound. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a circular structure, which they named Structure 3, about 42 feet in diameter, on top of Mound B. The central portion was roofless and served as a hearth. A palisade surrounded the structure and the surrounding area.

It is assumed that this structure served a special function for a restricted, probably elite, segment of Etowah's society. The structure appears to have been burned and rebuilt with each new construction phase.

During Etowah's peak, c. 1325-1375, a terrace was built over the circular structure and a new rectangular structure erected on the terrace.

Structure 3 on Mound B

Mound B from Mound A
Mound A and the plaza from the top of Mound B

Looking down from Mound B on the Etowah River
The back of Mound A and the side of Mound B from the top of Mound C.
Tucked back into a corner behind Mounds A and B, Mound C is nearly hidden. Unlike Mounds A and B, Mound C was built as a burial mound.

Mound C from the top of Mound A

Mound C is also the only mound to have been completely excavated, beginning as early as 1883. Excavation was completed in 1961, after which the mound was reconstructed.

The large quantity of ceremonial artifacts recovered from Mound C includes chert (flint) from Tennessee, shells from the Gulf Coast, copper from the Great Lakes area, and objects associated with early European explorers such as Hernando de Soto, and gives evidence to the extensive trade network the Etowah Indians had access to.

Mound C from Mound B
Excavation revealed at least seven buildings dated between 1000-1100 AD. These probably served a public function.

The outline of a building under Mound C.
Built in seven stages between 1250-1375 AD, Mound C grew to a height of 19 feet. Each stage of construction served as a layer of graves. Mound C occasionally was surrounded by a palisade, and once had a ramp on its eastern flank.

Stairs ascend Mound C's eastern flank.
The rear (western side) of Mound A and C.
Mound C

Mound B and A
The Etowah River and Mound C

The side of Mound A from Mound B
Rear of Mound A

Rear of Mound A

Mound A

North flank of Mound A

Standing at the rear of the summit of Mound A, looking down on Mound B, the Etowah River, and Mound C.

Mound-top view of the Etowah River

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