This year’s Ingomar Mounds’ Day event drew just the kind of day that makes you happy to live in Mississippi in November. A steady flow of visitors were able to enjoy an interesting event at their own pace.
Native Americans have lived in Mississippi for over 14,000 years. However, at about “only” 2200 years old, the Ingomar Mounds are the oldest documented man-made site in Union County. The was occupied during the Middle Woodland Period, about 200 B.C. – 500 A.D. The site originally comprised 14 mounds, which ranks it among the largest mounds sites in Mississippi.
Builders of the Ingomar Mounds site flourished here about 800 years before the bow and arrow. They were foragers, also called hunter-gatherers. They made pottery of local clay, gathered seasonal nuts and fruits, ate shellfish and hunted game with snares and the spear-like atlatl. Visitors to the Mounds’ Day event had the opportunity to try their hand at throwing the atlatl. Additionally, there was an atlatl competition.
The mounds were built with intensive labor, moving tons of earth from place to place. Burial mounds averaged about ten feet high, though some were much larger. Items found in the mounds indicated that the area inhabitants were able to trade with others from as far away as the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Lakes area and even eastern Canada. A representative from the Mississippi State Department of Anthropology was on hand with written information and artifacts.
Most of the burial mound content was related to daily life, with no gold or coin “treasure” to be discovered. Value of the contents is of an historical nature, not monetary, and most items are not well preserved. However, over time, many mounds were plundered. Most mounds were reduced in size by land terracing and normal agricultural processes. Smithsonian Institution archaeologists excavated the area in 1885, adding many items to the museum’s collection. Some of the items are on loan to the Union County Heritage Museum for exhibit.
Several small mounds remain at the site, along with one large, flat-topped burial mound, 28 feet high. The large mound (Mound 14) is one of the largest in the Southeast. Originally bare, it is now covered with a variety of trees. Many large old trees scatter acorns and nuts akin to those that were a main source of food 2200 years ago. Today, they fuel local wildlife, as well as Mother Nature’s campaign to take back her territory.
A Natchez Trace Parkway historical interpreter was on site with hand made weapons, stick ball equipment and other historic items to share with visitors. Pat Arinder is very knowledgable about Native American cultures, and many of the items in his collection of historical tools are his own handiwork.
The Ingomar Mounds Site is largely owned by the non-profit Archaeological Conservancy. It is maintained by the Union County Board of Supervisors, and interpreted by the Conservancy and the Union County Heritage Museum. It is open daily from dawn to dusk. The lay of the land is easy to negotiate, and there is a stairway to the top of the large mound.
How to find Ingomar Mounds: Travel about 5 miles south from the I-22/Hwy 15 interchange (exit 64), then west (right) onto Union County Road 96. Follow 96 west for about 2 miles, where it takes a sharp right turn. Shortly after the turn, the Ingomar Mounds site is on the right.