Sacred Geography: Conical Burial Mounds

Burial mounds are the oldest earthworks found in North America and are early evidence of prehistoric American’s belief in an afterlife. Burials contained many artifacts for the deceased to carry on their journey to the next world. Most common in Woodland burials was the presence of mica. Mica is a sheet like mineral with mirror like properties. It’s believed that prehistoric people used mica as a doorway to the next world. The burials of the elite would be encased in mica but even the lowliest burials would even have a small piece of mica to see them on their way. Below are some examples of burial mounds I found on my journey.

Glidewell Mound, Brookville, Indiana

The Glidewell Mound was named after an early landowner and is located within Brookville Mound Recreational Area near Brookville, IndiaGlidewell Mound, Brookville INna.  The oval mound overlooks Brookville Lake, once the Whitewater River.  Extensive excavations beginning in the late 1800s have left the mound damaged and now it appears more as a landscape feature rather than an earthwork.  Glidewell Mound dates to 100 BC and contains 25 Hopewell burials and copper grave goods.  This mound was once one of many round and oval mounds that were destroyed due to erosion, cultivation and development.

Eagle Mound, Newark, Ohio

Eagle Mound, Newark OHEagle mound can be found in the central platform of the Great Circle in Newark, Ohio and is a grouping of four small mounds.  Some believe the shape is significant, representing a bird in flight; however, archaeologists do not believe it is an effigy.  Archaeological excavations revealed remnants of a charnel house and alter at the base of the body, similar to Mounds City.

Story Mound, Chillicothe, Ohio

Story Mound, Chillicothe OHStory Mound is a conical Adena burial mound nearly twenty feet high and 95 feet in diameter, and at one time was 25 feet high. The site is owned by the Ohio Historical Society and located within the city of Chillicothe.  One mile to the west is the Worthington Estate, location of the Adena Mound, the first earthwork found and where the culture gets the name Adena.


References: Geopiety and Landscape Perceptions at Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana by Barbara A Perry



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