Archive for June 22, 2011

Angel Mounds State Historic Site

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment
Angel Mounds State Historic Site

ABOVE: Renovated Roundhouse at Angel Mounds State Historic Site. Photo provided by Indiana DNR.

Guest Blogger:
Mike Linderman, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Angel Mounds State Historic Site, located on the banks of the Ohio River near Evansville in southwestern Indiana, is one of the best-preserved precontact Native American settlements in the United States. The people who built the village were part of an advanced culture that thrived in the Mississippi River Valley from 550 to 900 years ago. Approximately 1,000 to 3,000 people occupied the site for nearly 350 years.

The Mississippians probably chose this site for their town because of the nearby river, the abundant food supply, and the great number of plants and animals available to them. Corn was an essential crop to support the population. Although the residents hunted animals, gathered plants, and fished in the river, they were mainly an agricultural people, not nomadic hunters.

This society built 11 earthen mounds as platforms for elevated buildings, not for burial purposes. Originally the town covered 103 acres and served as an important religious, political, and trade center for people living within a 75-mile radius.

The town site was abandoned before European explorers came to America. Archaeologists have found no evidence of war or epidemic. The reason for this abandonment, which occurred over a period of years, remains unknown.

Local residents knew of the Angel Mounds pre-contact Native American site long before its significance was noted in 1875. In 1938, with a donation from Eli Lilly, the Indiana Historical Society bought the site from the Angel family, who owned the land. A year later, archaeologist Glenn A. Black and the Works Progress Administration began excavations. The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology at Indiana University continues to excavate at the site periodically.

The State Historic Site includes a new visitor center, reconstructed winter houses, a round house, summer houses, a temple, and a portion of a stockade wall similar to the one that once surrounded the village. Angel Mounds was transferred to the state of Indiana in 1947. The 500-acre non-archaeological portion of the site includes a nature preserve, hiking and biking trails, and a picnic area.

Angel Mounds State Historic Site is part of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, a division of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. It is located just east of Evansville. Take the Covert Avenue/Highway 662 exit off of I-164 and follow the signs. The site is open all year, Tue-Sat 9-5 and Sun 1-5. The outdoor village site closes promptly at 4:30 pm. The site is closed on Mondays and major holidays.

For more information, visit, or call 812-853-3956.