ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Owl Creek Mounds, Mississippi
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Owl Creek Mounds, Mississippi
Owl Creek Mounds
The large platform mound at the Owl Creek Mounds
site in Mississippi is well-preserved and features
steps allow visitors to ascend to the top.
Owl Creek Mounds
The mounds are located in
the Tombigbee National
Forest just three miles off the
Natchez Trace Parkway.
Crescent-Shaped Mound
One of the mounds at the Owl
Creek site was built in an
usual crescent shape. It is
800-900 years old.
Mississippian Era Site
The Owl Creek Mounds were
built during the Mississippian
era and were part of a larger
ceremonial site.
Owl Creek Mounds - Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi
A Mississippi Archaeological Site
Platform Mound at Owl Creek
The largest of the Indian
mounds at the Owl Creek site
was a platform mound for
either a temple or the home of
a key leader.
The Owl Creek Mounds site is an important
Native American ceremonial complex. It is
located three miles west of the
Trace Parkway in Mississippi's Tombigbee
National Forest.

The archaeological site was originally
composed of five Indian mounds, a central
plaza, village area and other key features.
Many of these have disappeared over the
years, but the central two mounds remain
and are preserved in a park area that also
features walkways, interpretive panels and a
picnic area.

Archaeologists believe the Owl Creek
Mounds were probably built 800 to 900 years
ago at the height of the Mississippian era.
This culture was religious, political, military
and commercial in nature and spread over
virtually the entire Southeast and parts of the
Midwest. It thrived from around 900 A.D. until
Europeans arrived on the continent in the

The Owl Creek Mounds are especially
interesting because they appear to have
been used for only about a 100 year span of
time. This short life-span is unique among
major Mississippian ceremonial sites and
allows archaeologists to study a compact
time period of that era.

No one knows why the mounds were
abandoned after only 100 years, although
theories range from disease to some natural
catastrophe such as drought. If the Carbon
14 (age testing) data from Owl Creek is
accurate and researchers are right in their
theory that the site was abandoned around
800 years ago, then it is unique because its
evacuation took place well before the mass
abandonment of key mound sites that took
place in much of the Southeast in around
1400 A.D.

Some have speculated that the Owl Creek
Mounds might have a close association with
the Hernando de Soto expedition. Following
his landing in Florida in 1539, de Soto led a
column of Spanish soldiers through much of
the South and is credited with being the first
European to see the Mississippi River.

As he was passing through what is now the
state of Mississippi, he encountered fierce
resistance from a group the chroniclers of
his expedition called the Chicasa. These
people, undoubtedly, were the group we
know today as the Chickasaw.

The Owl Creek Mounds are definitely located
in what was once Chickasaw country, but
archaeologists generally do not believe they
were the site of the town of Chicasa visited by
Hernando de Soto. If their dating of the site is
correct, then it had been abandoned by 1541.
The site, of course, has not been completely
excavated and future research might reveal
something unexpected, but to date no
artifacts from the Spanish era have been
found there.

Hernando de Soto did pass through the
general area, however, and an information
panel at the site details his encounter at
Chicasa. There is also an interpretive sign
with information about the expedition nearby
on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Owl Creek Mounds Archaeological Site can
be reached by following the signs from the
Natchez Trace Parkway. To reach the site
Tupelo, Mississippi, travel south on the
parkway for 17 miles and exit right on Davis
Lake Road. It will be three miles ahead on
your right.

There is no museum at the site, but the Owl
Creek Mounds can be visited in daylight
hours 365 days a year. The site is protected
and digging or artifact collecting is not
allowed and, in fact, is a federal crime. There
is no charge to visit.

Please click here for a printable copy of the
National Forest Service information sheet on
the mounds.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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