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.
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