Discover the secrets of long-ago civilizations.
In 1870, a sandstone artifact bearing an image of two interlocked snakes was unearthed near Lafayette Bayou in Issaquena County. It was a stunning find, tangible proof of the cultural impact of the Native Americans who inhabited this state for thousands of years. The intricate piece, believed to have been created between A.D. 700 and 900, was called the “Issaquena Disk.”
When the Mississippi Mound Trail was launched in 2016, the Issaquena Disk became the trail’s official symbol. Its likeness is on every marker along the trail, which stretches for 350 miles and highlights Native American earthworks at 34 sites.
“Mississippi has been inhabited for 12,000 years or more,” says Pamela Lieb, chief archaeologist at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. “We hope the Mississippi Mound Trail will bring an awareness and appreciation of this highly developed Native American society and the advanced engineering and building skills which have left their mark on the state.”
Mississippi’s American Indian mounds are among the largest and oldest in the country, Lieb notes. The oldest, the Batesville Mound, dates to the Woodland Period 2,000 years ago. These mounds were built as burial sites and temple foundations and were likely hubs of early life.
The Mound Trail follows the Highway 61 corridor. Four sites—Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, Pocahontas Rest Area and Welcome Center, Winterville Mounds Archaeological Park and Emerald Mound— are open to the public. At these locations, visitors can walk among the mounds and see interpretative signs and exhibits. Others are on private property, and visitors are asked to view these mounds from roadside pull-offs.
While the sites themselves are ancient, visitors can take a decidedly modern approach to appreciating them. Trail markers feature Quick Response codes linking to details on the trail website. The online presence also features a map and GPS coordinates for easy navigation.
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