Past will meet the present during Ingomar Mound Day

Tomahawk throwing, ancient weapons demonstration and ancient Indian mounds all come alive this Saturday at the 6th annual Ingomar Mound Day.

Ingomar Mound Day will take place this Saturday, October 11, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is free and open to the general public, weather permitting. There will be tours of the big mound and the smaller mounds will be marked. Volunteers will be practicing flint napping, which is the art of making arrowheads from flint and conducting ancient weapons demonstrations.

Volunteer David Meeks will be conducting the ancient weapons demonstrations. Atl atls (also called the throwing stick), bow and arrows, and spears will be there so people can demonstrate their throwing arms. The tomahawk throw will be demonstrated by local Randy Darling.

Ingomar Mounds was built carbon-dated 2200 years ago during the Middle Woodland prehistoric period. The Middle Woodland period was between 2,390 to 1,425 Years Ago. According to a Middle Woodland Web Site, “For many years archeologists have regarded as ‘classic’ those Middle Woodland sites with elaborate ceremonial earthworks that contained the burial mound graves of elite individuals buried with exotic mortuary gifts obtained through an extensive trade network covering most of the eastern United States.”

According to the book Mississippi Archaeology Q & A, written by Evan Peacock, Mississippi State University (MSU) archaeologist Janet Rafferty conducted a survey in 1984 and studied the mounds at Ingomar Mounds. She discovered at least six and as many as 12 mounds that were built there over 2,000 years ago and it encompassed over 60 acres.

Rafferty said, “Most were conical burial mounds, but one – the magnificent Mound 14 – is one of the largest Indian mounds in the Southeast, a thirty-foot tall, flat-topped monument with a ramp leading off the northeast side.”

Paula Andras, 2004 MSU anthropology graduate student of Rafferty, wrote a thesis entitled ‘A Place in History: The Function of Ingomar Mounds, a Middle Woodland Site, Northeastern Mississippi’. In her research, she said, “The best way to describe Ingomar is as a communal site, which implies that the site was an area where people gathered for unspecified purposes.”

Jill Smith, Union County Heritage Museum director, said, “Accuracy was critical to survival for that culture. During the Middle Woodland period, you see the beginnings of agriculture and a shift in culture, but they were very dependent on their hunting skills. If they had a male child, they would lay it on panther skin and if they had a female child, they would lay it on a fawn’s skin to soak up all of the attributes of that animal.”

Smith continued, “When you are in the 4th grade or 9th grade and you do your Mississippi history studies, if you are a student in Union County, you really need to go to Ingomar Mounds. You need to go to this site and understand that over 2000 years ago there was a lot of activity here and that there was a whole different world and culture here.”

The mound site was privately owned by the Birchfield family up until 2003. Now, The Archaeological Conservancy owns 63 acres of the land at the mound site. Smith said, “It is one of the most important sites in the southeastern United States. It is going to be preserved now because the Archaeological Conservancy owns it. It is the oldest documented site in Union County.”

According to The Archaeological Conservancy Web site, “The conservancy was established in 1980 and is the only national non-profit organization dedicated to acquiring and preserving the best of our nation’s remaining archaeological sites. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Conservancy also operates regional offices in Mississippi, Maryland, Ohio, and California.”

Smith said, “Ingomar Mound Day would not be possible if the museum and the historical society didn’t organize it. The museum and the historical society have been doing this since 2003.” The museum has borrowed a selection of objects back from the Smithsonian Institute from one of the earliest digs at Ingomar Mounds. These objects are on a five-year loan. That exhibit opened in 2006.

Smith has a goal of having an interpretive site at Ingomar Mounds one day. There is a yearly lease on the property for a future interpretive site that is due to Union County and the Board of Supervisors’ support.

“I would also love to have a pow-wow out there as well as an astronomer come out for an equinox to see if the mounds correspond to the celestial event or cluster of stars,” said Smith.

According to the book Archeology in Mississippi, written by Calvin S. Brown, There are 14 mounds belonging to the group (Ingomar Indian group), 12 of which are together and the other two being one in the east and the other in the west.”

During an excavation in 1894 of the over 70 acres at Ingomar Mounds, human fragments and materials were discovered on Mound 5.

“The skulls belonged to persons of different ages, from the child whose first teeth were beginning to appear, to the aged individual whose teeth were worn to the gums. With the oldest was a burnt clay pipe, the only relic found in the mound,” said Brown.