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Mound Builders in Illinois (1000 B.C.)

Mound Builders were ancient civilizations that inhabited North America and built earthen mounds for religious, burial, ceremonial, and residential purposes during a 5,000-year period. They are listed on the Bible Timeline Poster starting around 1000 BC. The mound builders are divided into three groups: the Adena culture, the Hopewell culture, and the Mississippian culture. The Adena and Hopewell cultures were prominent during the Woodland period, which lasted from 1000 BC to 700 AD.

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The Hopewell culture originated from southern Illinois and spread into Ohio and across the Midwest region. Their influence, however, extended from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians. The Hopewell people were renowned for their geometric earthworks. They built large dome-shaped or conical burial mounds with elaborate earthen walls. Some mounds even reaching 65 ft. They also built mounds that were effigies of animals. The areas of their geometric enclosures ranged from 2.5 to 120 acres or 1 to 50 hectares. Their earthworks were generally of ritual architecture.

The Hopewell people were skilled in crafts and arts. They made ceramic pots, wove mats, and even carved figures from metals, bones, and woods. They were also skilled in making spear points and knives. They had animal skins for clothing and wore jewelry from copper and shells. From the Illinois Valley, the Hopewell culture had spread by way of trading using well-developed trade routes. Major Hopewell settlements can be found in Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New York, and Ontario.

Mound Builders
“The popular “Great Serpent Mound” situated in southern Ohio was constructed by the Adena culture.”

Before the emergence of the Hopewell culture, there was the Adena culture. The Adena is sometimes thought of as a precursor to the traditions of the Hopewell culture. The first group of mound builders, the Adena built small burial mounds of about 20-300 feet in diameter in Ohio, West Virginia, and the nearby states. The popular “Great Serpent Mound” situated in southern Ohio was constructed by the Adena culture. Following Hopewell was the Mississippian culture. It is the third group of mound builders, extending from the Mississippi Valley to Alabama, Georgia, and then Florida. The culture built large flat-topped mounds on which temples and meeting houses/residences were built.

Not much is known on why the three mound building cultures ended. Experts believe that invading tribes and warfare greatly contributed to it. What remains of these cultures are the earthworks they have built, which are scattered in several areas of North America.

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