Mounds site being spruced up for ceremony

Published 12:14 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

Mounds site being spruced up for ceremony

City workers have been grooming the grounds of the Batesville Mounds in preparation for a scheduled November 21 ceremony to officially open the park.
Photo by Malcolm Morehead

By John Howell
The City of Batesville utilized workers and equipment from several departments this week to prepare the Batesville Mounds Park for a planned November 21 opening ceremony.
Alderman Bill Dugger had questioned City Engineer Blake Mendrop during the city’s October 17 meeting about “grooming” the park area.
“We need to get it spruced up,” Dugger said.
Workers at the site this week included personnel, supervisors and equipment from the water and sewer, wastewater treatment and street departments. Tasks included clearing brush and lower limbs from the mounds and spreading fill dirt to create graded slopes along the edges of the raised, newly-built concrete sidewalks.
The ground over which the sidewalks have been built was once the location of two villages of native Americans who lived in what archeologists have labeled the Middle Woodlands period — a transition from the earlier hunter/gatherer native Americans of the archaic tradition.
“The Harmon Mounds site is a unique Middle Woodland site … one quarter mile southeast from the Tallahatchie River … on a bluff adjacent to a slough which borders an extinct oxbow,” University of Mississippi Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology graduate student Mimi Holland wrote in a 1992 survey for the Panola County Industrial Development Authority.
The site is alternately known as Harmon Mounds for the family who owned the property prior to its sale to the Industrial Development Authority.
The elevation of the bluff, proximity to the river and accessibility to the chert gravel, found in abundance in the river bed, for tool making made the location ideal, according to Holland.
Woodland Indians were characterized by three important developments — use of pottery, plant cultivation and mound building, according to the study. There are five mounds at the Batesville site, though some have been worn down from time and cultivation.
Burial rites “were evolving into elaborate mortuary customs in the Woodland tradition,” Holland states. “These earthworks … were constructed over human bones, cremated remains or in some instances over bodies enclosed in long tombs.”
“The mounds were constructed by loading earth, a basketful at a time, until completion. The mound burials were accompanied by elaborate grave goods such as jewelry and pottery.”
Studies of pottery shards from the Batesville Mounds site indicates that it was probably inhabited from as early as 500 B.C. to 300 A.D., according to the report.
Current UM archeology grad student Nikki Mattson is assisting the city in the planning use of the Mounds Park to best help the public learn more about its earliest inhabitants.

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