Sod blocks in Illinois Hopewell mounds

Julieann Van Nest, Douglas K. Charles, Jane Buikstra, David L. Asch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Explaining prehistoric mound development requires both anthropological and geoarchaeological perspectives. Illinois Hopewell (Middle Woodland) mounds are remarkable for the range of earthen materials used in their construction. Adding to this variety we document the presence of upturned sod blocks in a mound at the Mound House site. There and at other Illinois sites the sods have dark, 3-10-cm-thick A horizons with minimal or no evidence of B horizon development. They required no more than a few decades to form and did so under a grass cover. Humans probably created the conditions that enabled sods to form, but the sod blocks were not cut from soils adjacent to the mounds (unless from another mound surface nearby) or from soils in habitation areas. In some respects, sod blocks would have been a superior earthen building material, appropriately chosen, for instance, to construct stable, near-vertical walls of above-ground tombs. Their selection and use, however, cannot be explained solely according to principles of sound and efficient mound construction. We argue that sod blocks and other kinds of earth for Illinois Hopewell mounds surely had important symbolic dimensions in addition to their structural properties. Copyright

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-650
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Volume66
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

evidence
Mounds
Hopewell
Illinois
Soil
Cut
Tombs
Sound
Structural Properties
Woodland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Museology

Cite this

Van Nest, J., Charles, D. K., Buikstra, J., & Asch, D. L. (2001). Sod blocks in Illinois Hopewell mounds. American Antiquity, 66(4), 633-650.

Sod blocks in Illinois Hopewell mounds. / Van Nest, Julieann; Charles, Douglas K.; Buikstra, Jane; Asch, David L.

In: American Antiquity, Vol. 66, No. 4, 10.2001, p. 633-650.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Van Nest, J, Charles, DK, Buikstra, J & Asch, DL 2001, 'Sod blocks in Illinois Hopewell mounds', American Antiquity, vol. 66, no. 4, pp. 633-650.
Van Nest J, Charles DK, Buikstra J, Asch DL. Sod blocks in Illinois Hopewell mounds. American Antiquity. 2001 Oct;66(4):633-650.
Van Nest, Julieann ; Charles, Douglas K. ; Buikstra, Jane ; Asch, David L. / Sod blocks in Illinois Hopewell mounds. In: American Antiquity. 2001 ; Vol. 66, No. 4. pp. 633-650.
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