Karen Atwell Addresses Illinois Burial Mound
~ report by Michael Ruggeri ~
The Hopewell Interaction Sphere consisted of a great number of culturally related sites stretching from Ontario to Florida, the Appalachians to Missouri. The Hopewell Interaction Sphere lasted from 100 BCE-500 during the Middle Woodland period. Archaeologist Karen Atwell presented us with a very thorough and complete report on the Naples-Russell Hopewell mound complex in Pike County, Illinois in her invited lecture to the CAS on October 27.
She revealed that there are 8 mounds within the complex in the group, with the largest measuring 150 feet long, 90 feet wide, 30 feet tall.
The largest mound is a platform style construction with ramps. It was built over time in a multi-village effort by hundreds of laborers starting at 100 BCE. The mound constructions at this site were built over a 200 year span.
Among the abundant artifacts found in burials in the mound group: an eagle pipe, a raven headed pipe and conch shells. Black bear and grey wolf decorated canines were found in a child burial.
The main mound burial was of a male, Middle Woodland era, with a bear canine necklace, feathered staff, beads, ankle and wrist bracelets, adzes, antlers, and a Hopewell style vessel.
Other artifacts uncovered within the mounds: copper tools, mica, decorated bi-valves, a toad pipe, 4 copper celts, flintknapping tools, hammer stones, and materials from the archaic era.
The flooring for the burial complex included limestone paving, and white and yellow clay.
Many of the artifacts came from an extensive trade network stretching far to the north and south.
Karen Atwell was charged with finding out the extent of looting at the site over time and to re-construct the architecture, and to develop a complete layout of the site over time.
The Naples Mound Group is one of the largest Hopewell related sites in the Hopewell Interaction Sphere. Karen and her colleagues have worked for years at the Mound group and have found an extensive amount of trade goods and luxury items in the burials at the site. The largest mound, The Naples Mound 8, contained several burials laid out in a wide fashion within the mound.
Her talk gave us an insight into the importance of the Hopewell Interaction Sphere here in Illinois, and the importance of understanding more about this culturally rich Pre-Columbian society.