Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site: Wikis


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Kincaid Site
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
The Kincaid Site early on a summer morning, an original oil painting by the artist Herb Roe
Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site is located in Illinois
Nearest city: Brookport, Illinois
Coordinates: 37°4′50.07″N 88°29′30.42″W / 37.080575°N 88.4917833°W / 37.080575; -88.4917833Coordinates: 37°4′50.07″N 88°29′30.42″W / 37.080575°N 88.4917833°W / 37.080575; -88.4917833
Governing body: State
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL: July 19, 1964[2]
NRHP Reference#: 66000326

The Kincaid Mounds Historic Site, circa 1050-1400 CE,[3] was among the largest Mississippian culture chiefdom centers, located at the southern tip of the U.S. state of Illinois. Kincaid Mounds has been notable for both its significant role in native North American prehistory and for the central role the site has played in the development of modern archaeological techniques. The area had royal or central buildings on at least 11 mounds (ranking 5th for mound-culture pyramids). Some artifacts link the settlement to southern Mississippian culture, built after an earlier culture from the Late Woodland period (500 to 1000 CE).[3] The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964 for its significance as a major Native American mound center and prehistoric trading post along the Ohio River.[2]

Adjacent to the Ohio River, the site straddles the modern-day counties of Massac County and Pope County in deep southern Illinois, an area colloquially known as Little Egypt. The site was the subject of major excavations by the University of Chicago from 1934-1941, during which a number of famous anthropologists and archaeologists were trained under the direction of Fay-Cooper Cole. These included Richard MacNeish, discoverer of the origins of maize.[4] Exploration with new technology and excavations by teams from Southern Illinois University since 2003 has yielded significant new data.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency owns and operates[3] an area including nine mounds in Massac County. This includes the majority of the estimated 141-acre (0.57 km2) area contained within a wooden palisade, as well as an undefined area of additional occupation to the west.[5] The Pope County portion is privately owned.[3]


History of Kincaid

The Chicago excavators in the 1930s documented a prehistory in the Kincaid area stretching back thousands of years, into what is now known as the Archaic Period. The Chicago crew recognized this period as the Faulkner Component, which was described as a pre-pottery culture otherwise very like the cultures of the Early Woodland, such as the Adena culture.

More intensive occupation was documented in the ensuing Early Woodland and Middle Woodland periods. This involved a sedentary, semi-agricultural culture characterized by the use of limestone-tempered ceramics and the presence of permanent wooden houses. The Baumer culture was similar to the Adena culture and Hopewell culture, with which it was contemporary. The Baumer occupation at Kincaid was shown to be extensive.

Occupation continued into the Late Woodland. This period is known as the Lewis culture.

A photo of the Kincaid Site showing (clockwise from left) mounds 7, 8, and 9

The recognizable occupation at Kincaid, however, is the Mississippian mound-building community that developed out of the local Lewis community about 1050 CE. Kincaid was a near neighbor of Cahokia, only 140 miles (230 km) away, and is thought to have been influenced by developments there. At least 19 mounds were built during this period, mostly the characteristic Mississippian platform mounds. Since 2003 teams from Southern Illinois University have been conducting more intensive research.[6] A large central plaza surrounded by the major mounds occupies the center of the community. The central mounds are as much as 30 feet (9.1 m) tall and one is almost 500 feet (150 m) long; not rivaling Monk's Mound but very large by Mississippian standards.

In the 1930s, the Chicago team excavated a major burial mound, yielding further evidence for hierarchical social structures and showing that Kincaid was a chiefdom. Large buildings atop the main mounds seemed to indicate temples or council houses. Carved figurines in coal and fluorite seemed to characterize the local iconography, with images showing connections to the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Trade for chert resources appeared to extend into Missouri, Tennessee, and other parts of Illinois. Ceramics painted with a negative resist are also characteristic of the site.

Mississippian occupation at the site appears to have ended by 1400-1450 CE. No documented occupation by historic Native American tribes exists. The site was evidently abandoned until the arrival of European-American and African-American settlers centuries later.

Kincaid Focus

Mississippian sites on the Lower Ohio River

In the lower Ohio River valley in Illinois, Kentucky, and Indiana, the Mississippian-culture towns of Kincaid, Wickliffe, Tolu, and Angel Mounds have been grouped together into a "Kincaid Focus" set, due to similarities in pottery assemblages and site plans. Most striking are the comparisons between the Kincaid and Angel sites, which include analogous site plans, stylistic similarities in artifacts, and geographic closeness. These connections have led some experts to hypothesize that the builders and residents were of the same society.[7] The 300-400 year span in which these types of artifacts and sites are found is called the “Angel Phase”. It is broken up into three subphases:

Subphases Dates
Jonathan Creek 1000 - 1100/1200 CE
Angelly 1200 - 1300 CE
Tinsley Hill 1300 - 1450 CE

Rare painted and incised sherds have been found at all four sites, ranging from less than one percent near Kincaid to about three or four percent of the assemblage at Wickliffe. Some common pottery styles found in these sites include: Angel Negative Painted, Kincaid Negative Painted, and Matthews Incised. This pottery is shell tempered and ranges from the smoothed surface and coarser temper of Mississippi Ware to the more polished surface and finer temper of Bell Ware.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.  
  2. ^ a b "Kincaid Site". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  3. ^ a b c d "Kincaid: A Prehistoric Cultural and Religious Center", John E. Schwegman,, 2009, originally printed in Springhouse Magazine, webpage: S-Illinois-History-kincaid2.
  4. ^ Cole, Fay-Cooper; Robert Bell, John Bennett, Joseph Caldwell, Norman Emerson, Richard MacNeish, Kenneth Orr, and Roger Willis (1951). Kincaid: A Prehistoric Illinois Metropolis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  
  5. ^ "About Kincaid Mounds". Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Retrieved 2008-01-10.  
  6. ^ "Kincaid:A Prehistoric Cultural and Religious Center In Southern Illinois". Dr. John E. Schwegman. Retrieved 2008-01-10.  
  7. ^ Sherri L. Hilgeman (2000). Pottery and Chronology at Angel. University of Alabama Press. p. Pp. 30. ISBN 0-8173-1035-5.  
  8. ^ Sherri L. Hilgeman (2000). Pottery and Chronology at Angel. University of Alabama Press. p. Pp. 30-31. ISBN 0-8173-1035-5.  

6. Buchanan, M. E. (2007) Patterns of Faunal Utilization at Kincaid Mounds, Massac County, Illinois. M.A. Thesis (Anthropology), Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

External links



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