etowah indian mounds

Marble effigies from the Etowah Mounds, c. 1375
Etowah Indian Mounds is a 54-acre (220,000m2) archaeological site in Bartow County, Georgia south of Cartersville, in the United States. Built and occupied in three phases, from 1000–1550 CE, the prehistoric site is located on the north shore of the Etowah River. Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site is a designated National Historic Landmark, managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. It is the most intact Mississippian culture site in the Southeastern United States.


After walking (or running, in the case of my friends) the Cartersville 10k this morning (sub-13-minute miles, with no knee pain, woohoo! and my friend Susan got 3rd in her age group a week after her first triathlon, in which she also placed despite riding a heavy mountain bike), we hiked around the Etowah Indian Mounds.  We climbed to the top of the big mound (the chief’s mound).  You can get a sense of how tall it is from looking down at the second mound (the shaman’s mound, which we also climbed).  We didn’t climb the smallest mound (the burial mound, pictured to the right of the big mound in the first picture), because we don’t like walking on graves (though they did excavate and rebuild that mound).

The Etowah River runs along one side of the site; the settlers built a massive ditch and earthen walls surrounding the settlement, feeding the ditch from the river.  We sat and relaxed in a swing by the river for a few minutes; it was so peaceful with nothing but the sound of birds, water, and trees.  There used to be a giant stone fishing trap there, but if it’s still there, it was underwater today (the river was riding pretty high, not too surprising considering how wet this year has been).

The last picture was taken from the earthen wall that protected the settlement, which housed ~2000-4000 people in its heyday (from ~900 to ~1500).

Growing up in Virginia, I learned about the Powhatan, Croatoan, Monacan, Catawba, Cherokee, and Iroquois, at least a little bit, but we didn’t touch on the Mississippian tribes at all, so it was interesting to learn about their culture.

P.S. I don’t know why Tumblr decided to rotate the last picture after publishing it (it looked correct while I was writing the post), and I don’t see a way to fix it.