The Wickliffe Mounds Site (15BA4) is an extensively excavated archaeological site that is open to the public with a modest entrance charge. For decades the site was a commercial tourist attraction under the name of Ancient Buried City.

Wickliffe Mounds is situated along the Mississippi River in Ballard County, Kentucky at a point 3 miles downstream from the junction of the Ohio River and Mississippi River. Occupation at the site has been divided into Early Wickliffe (AD 1100 - 1175), Middle Wickliffe (1175-1250) and Late Wickliffe (AD 1250 - 1350). The site has been protected and interpreted since 1983 by Murray State University. They have conducted limited testing at the site which was extensively excavated by Fain W. King in the 1930s. Detailed analysis of the site can be found in the recently published book entitled Excavations at Wickliffe Mounds (2001) by Kit W. Wesler and published by the University of Alabama Press.

Kit Wesler analyzing small pottery sherds in the laboratory in the visitor's center at Wickliffe Mounds.

Modern excavation records being checked during pottery reading at Wickliffe Mounds.

Postmold patterns and associated radiocarbon dates.

Preserved portion of ancient packed clay floor with painted design interpreted as a equal arm cross ("+") enclosed within a circle.

Small pottery sherds help trace trade patterns running north to the Cahokia Mounds area and east into Indiana.

Parkin Punctated (ca. AD 1200 - 1600) pottery vessel from Wickliffe Mounds

Effigy style pottery bowl from Wickliffe Mounds.

Undecorated shell tempered cooking pot from Wickliffe Mounds.

A very unusual pottery type from the site is called a Wickliffe Press.

The most famous artifact from the Wickliffe Mounds site was a large owl effigy that had faint traces of both white paint and black negative paint. The original artifact was 10 inches in height. It was stolen from the site during a burglary in 1988 and this image shows a reproduction of the famous artifact. This significant artifact and many others were never recovered.

Sign at the site about the burglary.

A miniature clay owl effigy from recent excavations at Wickliffe Mounds. Why the owl? Some Native American traditions link the owl as a bird of the night and associated with the underworld and dead.

Animal bones and turtle shells are evidence of the diet.

Dietary evidence from Wickliffe mounds include deer, fish, and corn.

Deer mandibles from Wickliffe mounds.

Mortar and grinding stone for grinding corn and other seeds.

Click here if you care to see images of the burials at Wickliffe Mounds. The images are of plastic skeletons that have been placed where the actual human remains were discovered.