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

Protection and the Palisade

Moundville Archaeological Park

 
 
Protection and the Palisade Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
1. Protection and the Palisade Marker
Inscription.  Rival Mississippian chiefdoms constantly threatened one another. Warfare was a way of life for most men. By proving their valor militarily, warriors probably increased their overall status as they were promoted up through the ranks. One theory suggests that a strong chief usually bullied his weaker neighbors, establishing his lineage's dominance by destroying his neighbors' political and religious authority. In turn, the chief and his regime needed safeguarding.

To protect the town and its rulers, Moundville Indians built a fortified wall or palisade around AD 1200. The palisade surrounded Moundville on three sides. The northern end terminated at the Black Warrior River, the other at a deeply entrenched creek running along the site's eastern side. Sentries could easily protect the site's remaining sides from the bluff you see here and the steep ravines along the creek.

Mississippian Indians constructed the palisade using the same building methods they used for house walls, but on a larger scale. First builders dug a deep trench. Then they wedged large timbers upright alongside one another in the trench. Finally, clay was plastered

Protection and the Palisade Marker on left at Black Warrior River. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
2. Protection and the Palisade Marker on left at Black Warrior River.
over the entire wall.

The palisade was roughly 1.3 miles long and perhaps 10 to 12 feet tall. Square guard towers or bastions jutting out about every 100 feet kept anyone nearing the palisade wall under an archer's watchful eye. Maze-like walls at the palisade's gates slowed entering visitors to be checked by guards. Some evidence suggests that the Moundville Indians might have dug another trench or dry moat along outside portions of the wall.

Undergoing several rebuilding episodes, the palisade was finally abandoned around AD 1300. As many as 30,000 mature trees might have been used to build and maintain this vast wall over its 100 year life span. As a segment of wall deteriorated, workers dug a new trench paralleling the old wall, erected a new section and then tied it into the existing wall. The palisade was such a substantial structure that its remains were still visible when a scientist visited Moundville in 1869, over 400 years after the site was abandoned.
 
Erected by the University of Alabama.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyNative AmericansWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 33° 0.555′ N, 87° 38.205′ W. Marker is in Moundville, Alabama, in Hale County.

Protection and the Palisade Marker on left at Black Warrior River. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
3. Protection and the Palisade Marker on left at Black Warrior River.
Marker can be reached from River Bank Road 0.9 miles west of Mound Parkway. Located behind the Conference Center at the Black Warrior River. 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. The CCC and Moundville (approx. ¼ mile away); Mound Arrangement (approx. ¼ mile away); A Perspective of Power (approx. ¼ mile away); Politics and Power (approx. 0.3 miles away); Earthlodge (approx. 0.4 miles away); Mound B (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Politics and Power (approx. 0.4 miles away); Moundville Archaeological Park (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Moundville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 21, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 77 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 21, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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Mar. 4, 2021