An ancient mound is a small hill of earth, sand, gravel, stones, artifacts, and debris. The types of mounds found in the Ohio Valley area include Burial, Effigy and geometric. Mounds were used by the Adena and Hopewell cultures of North America.
Burial Mounds are mounds that were used to bury people such as chiefs, shamans, and priests of the Adena and Hopewell cultures. They were buried with different items such as pottery, projectile points, beads, and pipes. Other lesser members of the tribe were cremated and placed into tiny log tombs that were then covered with dirt. The burial mounds were built in layers, which had corpses on each level. The mounds range in size from 20-300 feet in diameter and were cone shaped. Each family had there own burial mound.
An example of a burial mound is located in Moundsville, West Virginia. It was measured at 69 feet tall and 259 feet in diameter. This mound was built by the Adena culture. There was a ditch encircling the mound. It was 40 feet across and 5 feet deep. Engineers believed that it took 60,000 tons of dirt to construct this mound.
Effigy mounds were built into shapes of animals like birds and bears.
Examples of effigy mounds are located in Adams County, Ohio, Chillicothe, OH and Boyd County, Kentucky. They are all in the shape of a snake. The purpose of Effigy mounds was for religious and social reasons. Scientists think that some of these mounds are somehow connected to a constellation and the summer and winter solstices.
Geometric mounds were circular, square, and rectangular. An example of this type is located in South Portsmouth, Kentucky. Uses of the geometric mounds were for ceremonial purposes. Sometimes people from later periods buried their dead in the mounds. Archeologists call these intrusive burials.