Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site

Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site

Infobox_nrhp | name =Kincaid Site
nrhp_type =nhl

caption = "The Kincaid Site early on a summer morning", an original oil painting by the artist Herb Roe
nearest_city= Brookport, Illinois
locmapin = Illinois
area =
designated= July 19, 1964cite web|url=
title=Kincaid Site |accessdate=2007-10-03|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
added = October 15, 1966cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
governing_body = State

Kincaid Mounds Historic Site is one of the largest Mississippian culture chiefdom centers, important for both its significant role in native North American prehistory and for the central role the site played in the development of modern archaeological techniques. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964 for its significance as a major Native American mound center and prehistoric trading post along the Ohio River.

The site straddles the modern-day counties of Massac County and Pope County in deep southern Illinois, an area colloquially known as Little Egypt. The site was the subject of major excavations by the University of Chicago from 1934-1941, during which a number of famous anthropologists and archaeologists were trained under the direction of Fay-Cooper Cole. These included Richard MacNeish, discoverer of the origins of maize.cite book| last = Cole| first = Fay-Cooper| coauthors = Robert Bell, John Bennett, Joseph Caldwell, Norman Emerson, Richard MacNeish, Kenneth Orr, and Roger Willis| title = Kincaid: A Prehistoric Illinois Metropolis| publisher = University of Chicago Press| date = 1951| location = Chicago] Exploration with new technology and excavations by teams from Southern Illinois University since 2003 has yielded significant new data.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency owns and operates an area including nine mounds in Massac County. This includes the majority of the estimated 141-acre area contained within a wooden palisade, as well as an undefined area of additional occupation to the west.cite web|url=|title=About Kincaid Mounds |accessdate=2008-01-10|work=|publisher=Southern Illinois University Carbondale]

History of Kincaid

The Chicago excavators in the 1930s documented a prehistory in the Kincaid area stretching back thousands of years, into what is now known as the Archaic Period. The Chicago crew recognized this period as the Faulkner Component, which was described as a pre-pottery culture otherwise very like the cultures of the Early Woodland, such as the Adena culture.

More intensive occupation was documented in the ensuing Early Woodland and Middle Woodland periods. This involved a sedentary, semi-agricultural culture characterized by the use of limestone-tempered ceramics and the presence of permanent wooden houses. The Baumer culture was similar to the Adena culture and Hopewell culture, with which it was contemporary. The Baumer occupation at Kincaid was shown to be extensive.

Occupation continued into the Late Woodland. This period is known as the Lewis culture.

The recognizable occupation at Kincaid, however, is the Mississippian mound-building community that developed out of the local Lewis community about 1050 AD. Kincaid was a near neighbor of Cahokia, only 90 miles away, and is thought to have been influenced by developments there. At least 19 mounds were built during this period, mostly the characteristic Mississippian platform mounds. Teams from Southern Illinois University have been conducting more intensive research since 2003.cite web|url=|title="Kincaid:A Prehistoric Cultural and Religious Center In Southern Illinois" |accessdate=2008-01-10|work=|publisher=Dr. John E. Schwegman] A large central plaza surrounded by the major mounds occupies the center of the community. The central mounds are as much as 30-feet tall and one is almost 500-feet long; not rivaling Monk's Mound but very large by Mississippian standards.

A major burial mound was excavated by the University of Chicago team, yielding further evidence for hierarchical social structures and showing that Kincaid was a chiefdom. Large buildings atop the main mounds seemed to indicate temples or council houses. Carved figurines in coal and fluorite seemed to characterize the local iconography, with images showing connections to the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Trade for chert resources appeared to extend into Missouri, Tennessee, and other parts of Illinois. Ceramics painted with a negative resist are also characteristic of the site.

Mississippian occupation at the site appears to have ended by 1400-1450 AD. No documented occupation by historic Native American tribes exists. The site was evidently abandoned until the arrival of European-American and African-American settlers centuries later.


6. Buchanan, M. E. (2007) "Patterns of Faunal Utilization at Kincaid Mounds, Massac County, Illinois." M.A. Thesis (Anthropology), Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

External links

* [ Kincaid Mounds and the 2007 SIUC Archaeological Field School]
* [ Kincaid Mounds, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]
* [ The Kincaid Mounds]

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