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Story Archives: Jonesville/Troyville featured nationally in American Archaeology Magazine
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|Jonesville/Troyville featured nationally in American Archaeology Magazine|
The Town of Jonesville is getting national attention this month in American Archaeology magazine with a six-page spread on the Troyville moundbuilders and specifically on the local effort to reconstruct The Great Mound.
The magazine is the only publication devoted solely to archaeology in the Americas. It is published four times a year (each quarter) by The Archaeology Conservancy based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Conservancy is a non-profit organization which acquires and preserves treasured archaeological sites across the country. It previously purchased the DePrato Mounds in Ferriday.
An alliance in Louisiana made up of Jonesville citizens, state and local government, and archaeologists, has been working together in Jonesville to build The Great Mound replica with the actual material used by Native Americans 1,400 years ago. This work is coming at a time when archaeologists are making new discoveries about the mysterious Troyville Culture (400-700 A.D).
The Great Mound once stood 80-ft. high, the second highest in North America behind the 100-ft. tall Monk's Mound at the Cahokia Mounds site in Illinois. The Great Mound was the centerpiece of Troyville, "a crown jewel of American archaeology," Louisiana archaeologist Jon Gibson told the magazine. He said it was "one of the largest mound complexes in America, and the Great Mound was one of the tallest structures ever built in pre-Columbian America, which proves its local and regional importance in the sweep of history in the Lower Mississippi Valley."
Jonesville resident Bill Atkins has spearheaded the effort to build a replica of The Great Mound with some of its original dirt, which was used as an approach to the old Black River Bridge. That material became available after the old bridge was demolished following the construction of a new bridge.
In addition to Atkins, Northeast Louisiana Regional Archaeologist Joe Saunders of Monroe and archaeologist Butch Lee of Earth Search Inc. of New Orleans were also interviewed for the magazine piece. The archaeologists provided insight on the Troyville Indians and on the archaeological work.
The Great Mound was a two-tiered, pyramid-shaped, conical-topped mound which stood over at least nine other mounds, eight of which were contained within an embankment that ran to the Little River on the northwest and Black River on the southeast.
Jessica Crawford of Marks, Miss., is the Southeastern Regional Director for The Archaeological Conservancy, which has five regional offices in the nation. She said the Troyville site is unique.
"Our editor is always asking the regional directors for story suggestions and since I've been in Jonesville a lot lately, I suggested the story of Troyville," she said. She said the interesting thing about Troyville is "how large and important Troyville was as well as the fact that much of the mounds were torn down and a whole new town was built on top of the site."
She said archaeological work is revealing that "a lot of Troyville remains. There is still a lot we can learn from what is left."
Crawford said the idea of building a replica of The Great Mound with the dirt from the original mound "is something that's never been done before, at least not in a situation like this one. The Conservancy's main purpose is to acquire archaeological sites that hold good research potential so they will be preserved for future generations and future researchers. Since we purchased a lot on Pond Street (Mound 4), it's our hope that we will be able to acquire additional portions of the site."
Crawford said archeologist Joe Saunders has identified "several places throughout the town that he thinks we should focus on. I'd really like to preserve some of the embankment. Whatever we're able to acquire, we'll just hold and maintain indefinitely. As long as we own it, we can be sure it will be protected."
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