Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 14, 2013

The mound builders of the Woodland Period

Ben Morris
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Archaeologsts call this period, which lasted until about 700 A.D.,the Woodland Period. These people are known today by the general term, “mound builders.” so named for their practice of creating earthen mortuary mounds and other earthworks including intricate effigy mounds and other structures. They lived over a wide range from the Atlantic, the Midwest, and the Ohio Valley to the Mississippi Valley. The term “mound builders”

refers to several cultures that span a period of approximately 20 centuries. The first group of people to develop this unique way of life were the Adena people, from about 1000 B.C. Other cultures extended the Mound Builder era to approximately 1500 A.D. The Adena mounds generally ranged in size from 20’ to 300’ in diameter. The Adena lived in a wide area including much of present day Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virgina, Pennsylvania and New York.

The construction of mounds required the labors of many people since they didn’t use the wheel and had no horses. The large amounts of earth had to be moved basket-load by basket-load.Items found in the mounds indicate

they were extensive traders. Excavation sat the Trempermound in southwest Ohio unearthed some 150 stone smoking pipes. Many were effigy pipes.

Examples of effigy pipes can be seen at the Decatur County Historical Society museum in Greensburg.

Ben Morris, MA, RPA is an archaeological and historical columnist for the Daily News. He can be reached at 812-932-0298 or