Wickliffe Mounds


Wickliffe Mounds

Wickliffe Mounds is a Mississippian culture archaeological site located in Ballard County, Kentucky, just outside the town of Wickliffe, Kentucky, about three miles from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Archaeology investigations have linked the site with others along the Ohio River in the Angel Phase of Mississippian culture.

Historic community at Wickliffe Mounds

The town at Wickliffe Mounds was both a ceremonial and administrative center of an important chiefdom in the Mississippian culture. At its peak it had a population probably reaching into the hundreds.

It was apparently inhabited between 1000 CE and 1300 CE. The site is dominated by two large platform mounds, with at least eight smaller mounds scattered around a central plaza area. Agriculture was based on corn as a staple, and the Mississippians had trade with societies as far away as North Carolina, Wisconsin, and the Gulf of Mexico. As in most other Mississippian chiefdoms, the community of Wickliffe had a social hierarchy ruled by a hereditary chief.

Exploitation and Excavation

Amateur and semi-professional excavations first began in the site around 1913 and continued sporadically for several decades. In 1930, Fain W. King, a businessman from Paducah, Kentucky, began private excavations of the site, with the intention of turning it into a tourist attraction. In cooperation with his wife, Blanche Busey King, he opened the site for tourists under the name "Ancient Buried City". The Kings' venture was highly controversial because they used sensational and misleading advertising, altered the site to make it more visually appealing, and made dubious and exaggerated interpretations of the site. These actions put them directly in opposition to professional archaeologists who studied the site and did not want it disturbed.

The Kings deeded the site to go to the Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah upon their death in 1946. The hospital continued to operate the site as a tourism business until 1983.

That year the hospital donated the site to Murray State University, to be used for research and training students. In 1984 the site's historic importance was recognized and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, the site became the 11th State Historical Site of Kentucky and entered the control of the State Parks Service.

External links

* [http://kentucky.gov/Newsroom/parks/wickliffemounds.htm Wickliffe Mounds State Park]
* [http://www.thinkwestkentucky.com/ecotourism/wickliffe.htm Wickliffe Mounds Research Center]

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