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Moundville in Hale County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Earthlodge

 

— Moundville Archaeological Park —

 
Earthlodge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
1. Earthlodge Marker
Inscription.  Before you is Mound V, a broad, low, rectangular platform that forms an apron to Mound B at your left. Until recently, scientists knew only that Mound V's function was somehow intimately tied to Mound B upon which the principal chief's house stood. However, only small excavations into Mound V had been made once before in 1905. This early dig unearthed few artifacts and no burials, although household debris was found in places.

In the fall of 1999, a University of Alabama archaeology field school began excavating one such patch of debris. They unearthed the burned remnants of a building much larger than normally found at Moundville. To discover what this structure really was, researchers had to enlarge their excavations. Over the next three years, scientists uncovered nearly one fourth of what they eventually realized was a sod-covered earthlodge.

The interior of the main structure was a large square building with rounded corners. Each wall measured about 36 feet long. Upright wooden posts set next to one another formed the earthlodge walls. These walls were reinforced with cane, plastered with mud and then painted red and white on

Earthlodge Marker with mound V in background. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
2. Earthlodge Marker with mound V in background.
the interior. Earth piled around the outside and over the top of the earthlodge formed a dome shaped exterior measuring about 50 feet in diameter at its base.

Leaner posts, set up against the building's exterior, supported the weight of the sod along the walls. Four large pine log posts, set into the ground inside the lodge, braced the heavy roof. Two narrow log-lined tunnels, connected to the eastern and western walls, allowed people to enter and exit the earthlodge. Other buildings were joined to either end of each tunnel.

The earthlodge, built more than 550 years ago, appeared relatively late in Moundville's history as a capital town. It may have served as a council house, where chiefs of Moundville met with others to make important decisions. Artifacts recovered here include smoking pipes, pottery fragments, and a whole pottery vessel with acorns placed inside it as an offering, purposely buried at one of the four large roof support posts.
 
Erected by the University of Alabama.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Native AmericansSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 33° 0.479′ N, 87° 37.842′ W. Marker is in Moundville, Alabama, in Hale County. Marker can be reached from River Bank Road 0.3 miles west

Drawing of earthlodge from marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
3. Drawing of earthlodge from marker.
of Mound Parkway, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: River Bank Road, Moundville AL 35474, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mound B (a few steps from this marker); Politics and Power (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Politics and Power (within shouting distance of this marker); Mound Arrangement (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Perspective of Power (approx. ¼ mile away); The CCC and Moundville (approx. ¼ mile away); Protection and the Palisade (approx. 0.4 miles away); Moundville Archaeological Park (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Moundville.
 
Mound B on left with this marker and Mound V on right. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
4. Mound B on left with this marker and Mound V on right.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 20, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 89 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 20, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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Jan. 23, 2021