Bones of the Child, Tools of the Shaman: Ritual and Cosmology at the Hopewell Tunacunnhee Mounds

Bones of the Child, Tools of the Shaman: Ritual and Cosmology at the Hopewell Tunacunnhee Mounds

Near Trenton in Dade County, Georgia, is a place called Tunacunnhee, supposedly named after a Native American word meaning “Lookout Creek”. Located just a few hundred yards east of Lookout Creek is an archaeological site known as the Tunacunnhee Mound Group. The Tunacunnhee site consists of four earthen mounds featuring an outer layer or mantle of limestones. Located near the mounds are two prehistoric burial pits.

In the winter of 1973, the Ani-yun-wiya Society of amateur archaeologists of Tennessee and Georgia brought the site to the attention of professional archaeologists—following an incident during which   Mound C was looted and six burials were destroyed. In fact, the site had been routinely vandalized for around 50 years by the time archaeologists arrived to perform excavations and research. At that point, the archaeologists realized that the decades of vandalism had somehow spared the most important features of the site! What the professional diggers found was considered “of extraordinary archaeological importance”, for the Tunacunnhee Mounds turned out to be the work of people affiliated with the ancient Hopewell Culture.

Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio

Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio (Herb Roe/CC BY-SA 3.0)


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