Mound Bottom Indian Settlement

Mound Bottom is an American Indian village location from around 800 AD to 1450 AD. It is a 101 acre site west of Nashville that sits in a horseshoe bend of the Harpeth River. The state owned Mississippian archaeological site is about one mile north of highway 70 on Cedar Hill Road.

This village was part of a larger Indian culture that flourished throughout the entire Southeast region. They were a complex social system built around large man made mounds. Their villages, farms, and hamlets would be scattered for miles along the river valley. Their farms produced mainly corn but they had other crops too.

They engaged in long distance trade of copper, marine shell, and various other items that they had in excess.

The pictures are taken at the Tennessee State Museum's Mississippian Exhibits.

Mound Bottom is made up of 14 mounds forming an outline to an open level plaza. This plaza was probably used for social and ceremonial events. The largest mound was the home of the leader, a temple, a townhouse, or other building that was important to the community. The lesser mounds were for homes of lesser officials and structures for communal or ceremonial use.

Just like a town they had a residential neighborhood that was located beyond the plaza. This is where the majority of the population lived. There were multiple burial grounds or cemeteries which were probably divided up by families and by rank. The entire mound complex including the residential neighborhood was surrounded on three sides by wooden walls. The walls were built on an embankment of earth, which would look like a frontier fort.

There is a larger mound complex which is 4 times larger on the south side of highway 70 close to the Harpeth River Bridge and is on privately owned land. This site is called the Pack site and is also called the Great Mound Group, and others call it the South Mound Group. This site is built in the same manner as Mound Bottom having 20 mounds and 42 house sites.

The Mound building time was called the Mississippian Period. The discovery of corn took them from the Woodland Period to the Mississippian Period. The Woodland people had crops, but they relied on hunting for their main food source. In the Woodland Period, the crops helped to extend food reserves in the winter months.

During the Mississippian Period, corn lessened the demand for fresh meat because its harvest produced much more grain than any of the other crops. Now instead of hunting, other endeavors could be pursued.

The Mississippian Indian culture got its name because it was found along the Mississippi River and major rivers that feed it. This area would be called the Mississippi Valley. This culture is thought to have started near St Louis about the time of the discovery of corn and spread rapidly to the rest of the valley. This culture's boundaries are about the size of Western Europe and have been defined into three distinct major areas.

1. The Central Mississippi or American Bottoms with its center at Cahokia Illinois. 2. The Caddoan Area in Texas, Louisiana, and Eastern Oklahoma with its center at Spiro. 3. The Tennessee-Cumberland Area with many large sites including Mound Bottom.

If you would like to tour the site, you can call the Montgomery Bell State Park 797-9051

Click here for more information about Mound Bottom and the Mississippians

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