People have been here in this area of the country a lot longer than we imagine.
And some of the oldest of the earliest of the inhabitants have left some pretty big monuments behind.
We did a series a few weeks ago called the "7 Wonders of Mississippi."
And as you would imagine, there are way more than 7 wonders in Mississippi.
This is another that could have and probably should have been in that original 7 wonders.
This is an ancient land.
We have it tied up with paved highways and electric power lines to the extent you have a hard time imagining the Civil War even being fought here.
Much less farther back than that. But the original people to discover the lower Mississippi Valley lit their first camp fires and built their first shelters thousands of years ago.
It's hard to date it because they had no written language so they didn't leave us a written history.
And the ashes from their fires and the wood of their huts long ago vanished.
But they did leave us something that is amazing.
Huge mounds of dirt that were used for burials and shelter and rituals.
In parts of Mississippi and especially Louisiana there are mounds older than the Pyramids in Egypt.
And some that are just a few hundred years old.
Coming out of the forests north of present day Natchez, the ancestors of the Natchez Indians built Emerald Mound.
Emerald Mound is the second largest Indian mound in the United States.
It's built in two tiers.
The lower broad plane that covers about eight acres is 30 feet above the forest floor.
Then, on either end are larger mounds, the tallest rising another 30 feet above the base mound.
Archaeologist tell us that Emerald Mound was made by building up an existing hill by piling basket full after basket full of dirt on it until it got this big.
Or even bigger.
It's eroded over the centuries since it was built.
And when was that?
Best estimates say between about 1250 AD and 1600 AD.
Emerald belongs to the same family of mounds as the Winterville Mounds near Greenville, the Lake George Mounds near Holly Bluff and the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez.
By the time the Europeans made it to this part of Mississippi in the early 1700s, the huge mound had been abandoned and the tribe had moved to the much smaller Grand Village on the banks of St. Catherine's Creek.
Well, maybe the same reason people move from the old family home to a patio home later in life; it got to be too much to have to take care of.
I say the mound was abandoned.
But that's only partly true.
It's a part of the Natchez Trace Parkway system today.
It's well taken care of and free to visit with no admission charge.
And nearby youngsters like bicyclists DeAnte' Ware and Curtis Brown really challenge the notion that the mound has no practical use today.
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:13 PM EDT2013-05-24 01:13:14 GMT
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