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LiDAR of the Carson Mound Site
LiDAR of the Carson Mound Site

By Paula Neely

Spring 2014: One day in 2007, the owner of a field that covers part of the 1,000-year-old Carson Mounds group in northwest Mississippi began leveling the land to improve its drainage. As a result, as much as three feet of dirt was scraped off the tops of small mounds and a midden, and hundreds of human remains were exposed.

The next day a graduate student studying the site saw the bones, and he contacted John Connaway, an archaeologist with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, who in turn contacted Jessica Crawford, the Southeast region director of The Archaeological Conservancy. “We ran out to the site and saw bones everywhere. To see all those remains destroyed as well as the information they held was heartbreaking,” Crawford says.

Crawford negotiated an easement, a legal agreement that allows Connaway to excavate a three-acre portion of the field that has the highest concentration of burials and archaeological resources before plowing resumes. Without an easement the owner probably would have slowed down long enough for the bones to be recovered, she says. “All you would end up with is bags of bones and little else.” Plowing resumed on the rest of the 10-acre field.

Carson was built by the Mississippian people, and it once consisted of 89 mounds. The six largest mounds remain, and the Conservancy owns four of them. But most of the smaller mounds, including those in the field covered by the easement, have been destroyed by plowing during the past century.

Since Connaway began excavating the field six years ago, he has recorded the remains of about 250 men, women, children, and infants, who were buried in 65 pits. It’s the first excavation of the Carson site in nearly 100 years.One day in 2007, the owner of a field that covers part of the 1,000-year-old Carson Mounds group in northwest Mississippi began leveling the land to improve its drainage. As a result, as much as three feet of dirt was scraped off the tops of small mounds and a midden, and hundreds of human remains were exposed.

 

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