Angel Mounds, Indiana
Located at Angel Mounds State Park & Museum, 8 miles southeast of Evansville, Indiana. Follow signs on I-164.
By Dr. Greg Little
Portions of this article and the illustration above are from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks.
Indiana has nearly 48,000 identified archaeological sites. Thousands of mounds were once present in the state, but farming and construction have obliterated the vast majority of them. The most impressive site that remains in the state is Angel Mounds, which has a high quality museum on its grounds. Angel is easily accessed off the south leg of Interstate 164.
Angel Mounds was a large Mississippian-era ceremonial center with a massive village area. It is adjacent to a now-dry portion of the Ohio River and was inhabited from A.D. 1000 to 1500. The park encompasses 603-acres. Because it is a somewhat remote site that was subject to flooding, the mound complex and village escaped both agricultural destruction and looting. Excavations performed over a 20-year period recovered an astonishing 3 million artifacts. A massive palisade wall was erected on three sides of the complex with the area along the river the only unprotected portion. The wall ran for over a mile. A reconstruction of part of the wall shows that the Angel site was a heavily protected fortress.
The site had 11 large platform (pyramid) mounds and most of them are preserved or partially preserved. The tallest was a three-tiered, 44-foot high pyramid with a base of 645-by-415-feet. . The next largest was a square-based mound rising to 13-feet. It is unclear how many people actually lived at the site, but most archaeologists guesstimate it at 1,000 inhabitants. There are several other mounds and associated sites nearby but outside the park area.