A mound is a general term for an artificial heaped pile of earth, gravel, sand, rocks, or debris. The most common use is in reference to natural earthen formation such as hills and mountains, particularly if they appear artificial. The term may also be applied to any rounded area of topographically higher elevation on any surface. Artificial mounds have been created for a variety of reasons throughout history, including ceremonial (platform mound), burial (tumulus), and commemorative purposes (e.g. Kościuszko Mound).


North American archaeology

In the archaeology of the United States and Canada, the term "mound" has specific and technical connotations. In this sense, a mound is a deliberately constructed elevated earthen structure or earthwork, intended for a range of potential uses. In European and Asian archaeology, the word "tumulus" may be used as a synonym for an artificial hill, particularly if the hill is related to particular burial customs.

While the term "mound" may be applied to historic constructions, most mounds in the United States are prehistoric earthworks, built by Native American peoples. Native Americans built a variety of mounds, including flat-topped pyramids or cones known as platform mounds, rounded cones, and ridge or loaf-shaped mounds. Some mounds took on unusual shapes, such as the outline of cosmologically significant animals. These are known as effigy mounds. Some mounds, such as a few in Wisconsin, have rock formations, or petroforms within them, on them, or near them.

While these mounds are perhaps not as famous as burial mounds, like their European analogs, Native American mounds also have a variety of other uses. While some prehistoric cultures, like the Adena culture, used mounds preferentially for burial, others used mounds for other ritual and sacred acts, as well as for secular functions. The platform mounds of the Mississippian culture, for example, may have supported temples, the houses of chiefs, council houses, and may have also acted as a platform for public speaking. Other mounds would have been part of defensive walls to protect a certain area. The Hopewell culture used mounds as markers of complex astronomical alignments related to ceremonies.

Mounds and related earthworks are the only significant monumental construction in prehistoric Eastern and Central North America.

Mounds are given different names depending on which culture they strive from. They can be located all across the world in spots such as Asia, Europe and the Americas. "Mound builders" have more commonly been associated with the mounds in the Americas. They all have different meanings and sometimes are constructed as animals and can be clearly seen from aerial views.

Archaeology elsewhere

Mound, as a technical term in archaeology, is not generally in favor in the rest of the world. More specific local terminology is preferred, and each of these terms has its own article (see below).

Mound types

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mound — Mound, n. [OE. mound, mund, protection, AS. mund protection, hand; akin to OHG. munt, Icel. mund hand, and prob. to L. manus. See {Manual}.] An artificial hill or elevation of earth; a raised bank; an embarkment thrown up for defense; a bulwark;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mound — [maund] n 1.) a pile of earth or stones that looks like a small hill ▪ an ancient burial mound mound of ▪ a small mound of dirt 2.) a large pile of something mound of ▪ There s a mound of papers on my desk. ▪ The waiter appeared with a huge mound …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Mound — Mound, LA U.S. village in Louisiana Population (2000): 12 Housing Units (2000): 5 Land area (2000): 0.243460 sq. miles (0.630559 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.243460 sq. miles (0.630559 sq.… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • mound — [ maund; mund ] n. m. • 1875; mot angl. « tertre » ♦ Archéol. Monument de l Amérique précolombienne (bassin du Mississippi) constitué par un tertre artificiel. ⇒ tumulus. ⇒MOUND, subst. masc. ARCHÉOL. Tertre artificiel d Amérique du Nord… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • mound — mound1 [mound] n. [prob. < MDu mond, protection, akin to ON mund, hand: see MANUAL] 1. a heap or bank of earth, sand, etc. built over a grave, in a fortification, etc. 2. a natural elevation like this; small hill 3. any heap or pile 4.… …   English World dictionary

  • Mound — (mound), n. [F. monde the world, L. mundus. See {Mundane}.] A ball or globe forming part of the regalia of an emperor or other sovereign. It is encircled with bands, enriched with precious stones, and surmounted with a cross; called also {globe} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mound — Mound, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Mounded}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Mounding}.] To fortify or inclose with a mound. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mound — 〈[maʊnd] m. 6〉 Erdhügel im vorkolumbianischen Amerika, Tempel od. Grabhügel [engl.] * * * Mound [maʊnd], der; s, s [engl. mound, H. u.] (Völkerk.): vorgeschichtlicher indianischer Erdwall als Grabhügel, Verteidigungsanlage od. Kultstätte …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Mound, LA — U.S. village in Louisiana Population (2000): 12 Housing Units (2000): 5 Land area (2000): 0.243460 sq. miles (0.630559 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.243460 sq. miles (0.630559 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Mound, MN — U.S. city in Minnesota Population (2000): 9435 Housing Units (2000): 4118 Land area (2000): 2.944955 sq. miles (7.627398 sq. km) Water area (2000): 1.971012 sq. miles (5.104897 sq. km) Total area (2000): 4.915967 sq. miles (12.732295 sq. km) FIPS …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Mound — [maund] der; s, s <aus gleichbed. engl. mound, Herkunft ungeklärt> vorgeschichtlicher Grabhügel, Verteidigungsanlage u. Kultstätte in Nordamerika …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

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