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Ingomar Mounds’ Day focuses on Mississippi’s ancient foragers

2018 Ingomar mounds A contest in throwing the atlatl is a feature of the Ingomar Mound events. The atlatl is a device, which uses leverage to throw a spear at velocities of up to 150 mph. The atlatl was first used 17,000 to 20,000 years ago and, in pre-historic times, pre-dates the use of the bow and arrow.

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.

Pat Arinder from the Natchez Trace Interpretive Center explains some of the items on display.

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.

William Harris, an archaeologist from Mississippi State University, showed examples of prehistoric tools and distributed information about them.

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.

2018 Ingomar Mounds

A tooth of a baby mastodon, which was found in LeFleur County, is displayed by Pat Arinder of the Natchez Trace Interpretive Center of the National Parks Service. The mastodon, whose range included Mississippi, became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

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.

Ingomar Mounds 14

The largest Ingomar mound is accessible by stairway. The yellow sassafras trees atop the mound each produce several different leaves.

2018 Ingomar Mounds Smith and Nichols

Atop Mound 14, Jill Smith, Director of the Union County Heritage Museum, sponsor of the annual Ingomar Mounds event, is shown speaking with Thomas Nichols of Thaxton, Miss. Nature photographer Nichols used recordings of bird sounds to attract birds, and drew a flight of blue jays.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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