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Welcome to The River Discovery Center, your offsite classroom Today we will focus on the culture of the ancient Mound Builders, some of America’s indigenous.

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Presentation on theme: "Welcome to The River Discovery Center, your offsite classroom Today we will focus on the culture of the ancient Mound Builders, some of America’s indigenous."— Presentation transcript:

1 Welcome to The River Discovery Center, your offsite classroom Today we will focus on the culture of the ancient Mound Builders, some of America’s indigenous peoples.

2 Who were the Mound Builders? They were some of the earliest inhabitants of our land. They lived here 1500-3000 years ago. They were called the Mississippians, not because of where they were from, but WHEN they lived….the Mississippian Era.

3 How large were their settlements? Some settlements were small but some were as large as 25,000 people, the size of Paducah. The largest settlement we know about is at Cahokia, Illinois, near St. Louis.

4 Why were they called Mound Builders? Some mounds were used as the foundation for the home of the chieftains Some mounds were built to resemble animals and were most likely ceremonial grounds Some mounds were used as burial mounds

5 Where did the Mound Builders come from? The Mississippian Mound Builders were descendants of some of the first Native Americans to come into the Western Hemisphere 20,000 years ago crossing a strip of land, now submerged, beneath the Bering Straits, connecting the Asian and North American continents. They drifted slowly into the Midwest.

6 When did the Mississippians arrive in what is now Kentucky? It is believed that the early peoples lived in North American during 4 main historic periods. The Mississippian civilization (Mound Builders) were the group of people who migrated into the region now known as Kentucky. Paleo (14,000 years ago) Archaic (9500 years ago) Woodland (3500 years ago) Mississippian (3000 years ago)

7 What do we learn from them? We learn 3 basic things we can apply to today’s living: 1.We learn the value of working together in communities for the good of the whole 2.We learn to plan ahead 3.We learn to be resourceful

8 How do we know about them: EVERYTHING WE KNOW WE KNOW FROM THE ARTIFACTS THEY HAVE LEFT BEHIND

9 WHAT IS AN ARTIFACT? An artifact- any object made by or used by human beings

10 Where did the Mound Builders live? They lived primarily in the eastern half of the US. They usually lived close to a river. There is evidence that there were 16,000 villages and camps in the area covered by Kentucky.

11 Why did they live close to rivers: Rivers and the riparian environment provided: 1. A byway for travel 2. Food from river (fish, mussels, crayfish) 3. Clay from the river 4. A trade route

12 How did they differ from the cultures before them? Following the Woodland culture, these Mississippians suddenly became more “settled” as they began to build homes and grow crops. They also developed new pottery forms and potters added handles to jars, bowls and bottles, attaching human and animal effigies. The appearance of the “3 sisters” crops occurred about this time. They learned they could plant 3 crops that would grow successfully together: corn grew vertically, beans wrapped around and grew up the cornstalk and squash was planted at the base to spread out and prevent the growth of weeds.

13 What did the Mound Builders eat? They enjoyed the bounty of Nature: wild plants, berries, nuts, animals in the riparian environment, fish and mussels from the rivers and streams. Rabbits, squirrels, deer and fowl would have been abundant. They also dried their crops and animal meat for winter months.

14 What did the Mound Builders wear: There is evidence that the Mound Builders wove cloth from plant fibers: reeds, grasses, etc. They also used animal hides to make clothing. Bone needles and sinew have been found in caves.

15 What natural resources were used by the Mound Builders: Animals: food, clothing, tools, shelter Plants: food, cordage, shelters, basket weaving, dyes Stones: weapons, tools, kiln construction Clay: tools, utensils, jewelry

16 What items were traded into KY: Copper: Lake Superior region Mica: North Carolina Sea Shells: Gulf of Mexico Obsidian glass: Northwest A mica hand made by the Hopewell Native Americans

17 What were their homes like: They did not live in teepees!! Western Plains Native Americans ONLY used those. They built daub and wattle houses. Daub is a plaster-like mud; wattle is a panel construction using vertical poles and woven vines. The poles were inserted into a ditch several feet into the ground and the walls were attached. It appears the homes had 2 rooms and the villages often had stockades around the perimeter.

18 Did Mound Builders practice religion? There is evidence from some artifacts that they wore engraved figures on shell gorgets (neck ornaments). Also, like the Egyptians, they buried objects with their dead…pipes, shell necklaces and, pottery with shell spoons…all in anticipation of an “afterlife” for the deceased. From images found on cave walls and carved into shells and bone, it is evident they believed in “animal spirits”. It is possible they also believed in weather and ancestor “spirits”. Designs of shell gorgets

19 How did they change the physical lay of the land? They built earthen mounds, dug trenches and built dams to control water for irrigation of crops.

20 What was their life expectancy? From physical evidence left behind, the average age of a Mound Builder is believed to have been 50 years. The skeletal remains indicate they were generally healthy with a good diet. Poor sanitation would have resulted in illness most likely. Many infants did not survive. There is some evidence that villagers died from violence, perhaps raids or acts of war from other settlements.

21 What scientific methods are used to study ancient peoples? The field of Archaeology mainly includes these two methods: Scientific knowledge: basing information on available artifacts or soil evidence Experimental knowledge: concluding likely facts from comparisons to other evidence

22 Did the Mound builders have a written language? There is no evidence that they had any form of a written language. Their wide-spread use of images, however, suggests they made those images purposefully. Perhaps they were used to tell stories or simply to record an event. Some of the artists were quite skilled with their creativity.

23 What happened to this magnificent culture? There are many theories as to what happened to the Mound Builders. It is entirely possible that they were just assimilated into ( or became) a new culture. Some think, however, that the conquistadors who arrive in Central America and migrate northward brought with them diseases to which the Mound Builders had no immunity. There is some evidence that their civilization may have succumbed to war.

24 How can we learn more about Mound Builders today? Many of their ancient burial grounds have become parks and national monuments. Archaeologists continue to have permission, however, to study their sites. New laws have been enacted that prevent people from digging into their burial grounds today. Only artifacts from the ground or loose in caves may be taken. High fines are levied on anyone desecrating their gravesites. The laws were enacted after Native American activists went before Congress asking for their ancestors’ remains to be protected.


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