Although the first people entered what is now Mississippi about 12,000 years ago, the earliest major phase of earthen mound construction in this area did not begin until some 2100 years ago. Mounds continued to be built sporadically for another 1800 years. Of the mounds that remain today, some of the earliest were built to bury important members of local tribal groups, such as the Boyd, Bynum, and Pharr mound sites. These mounds were usually rounded, dome-shapes. Later mounds were rectangular, flat-topped earthen platforms upon which temples or residences of chiefs were erected. Examples of this type of mound can be seen at the Winterville, Jaketown, Pocahontas, Emerald, Grand Village, Owl Creek and Bear Creek sites.
Viewing the mounds, the traveler will come face to face with a rich legacy of American Indian cultural achievement. Many diverse Indian groups, drawn by the bountiful wildlife, warm climate, and fertile soil, made their homes in what is now Mississippi for thousands of years before the first Europeans and Africans arrived. Mounds built of earth are the most prominent remains left on the landscape by these native peoples.
Mississippi mound sites mark centers of social and political authority. Every mound has its own chapter to tell in the unfolding story of the human past. Opportunities to discover more about these mounds and their builders disappear daily as erosion, farming, urban development, and looting continue to degrade these sites. Untold numbers of the old monuments have already been lost, and secrets of our nation's past have vanished with them. The mounds that remain stand as a testament to the vitality, diversity, and creativity of their makers, who developed the complex societies of long ago. It is up to us to protect the mounds that are left so that future generations can continue to experience the wonder of these dramatic memorials of ancient times.