Ethel R. Wilson Mound 6


Mound number 6 at the Ethel R. Wilson site was excavated by the Illinois State Museum between June 22 and August 11, 1950. The dome shaped mound measured approximately 90 feet (27.4 meters) in diameter and over 13 feet (4 meters) in height. The site is situated in White County, Illinois.

The mound had been looted in approximately 1900 and it was reported that projectile points, bones and shells were discovered. The Wilson Mounds and Village Site were listed with the National Register of Historic Places on 16 November 1977. Williard Libby conducted a radiocarbon analysis (C-14) in 1952 on a sample of charcoal found within the log tomb; the uncalibrated C-14 date is 134 BC +/- 160.


Mound 6 was originally constructed as a tomb with a log roofed, central burial chamber. Three instrusive burials were identified by the archaeological excavation. It is likely that the artifacts recovered by the looters were from other intrusive burials. Burial 1 was a flexed, instrusive burial of an adult male, approximately 32 years old at time of death. Burial 2 was a bundle burial of a male, 47 years old. Burial 3 was a bundle burial of a middle-aged female that had grave offerings of a small effigy pipe (in the form of a cardinal), a conch shell dipper, and fragments of sheet mica.



The burial chamber within the mound extended 2 feet (0.6 m) into the clay subsoil and measured 15 feet (4.5 m) by 11 feet, 8 inches (3.6 meters). An individual sized burial pit extended 3 ft (0.9 m) deeper than the burial chamber; it measured 2 feet (0.6 m) by 5 feet (1.5 m). Four ramparts of clay, semi-lunar in shape, were constructed on all four sides of the burial pit. The walls and floor of the burial pit were covered with slabs of tree bark.



Seven burials were discovered in the mound's burial chamber. Burial 4 (against the north wall) was a 31 year old female. Placed at her right elbow was a platform pipe carved with the design of an otter with eyes inlaid with copper. At her left knee was a tray made from a turtle shell and 4 shell spoons.

Burial 5 (against the east wall) was a 45 year old male. Traces of red ochre were observed on his skeleton and a flint knapping cache was situated near his head. Associated with his burial was a plain platform pipe, a hemispherical object of limestone, two cut halves of a bear jaw, and several disc beads. The bear jaws had been painted with red ochre. The flint knapping cache included 2 hammerstones, 2 rectangular sandstone abraders, 2 pieces of fine grained sandstone, 3 cut sections of antlers, a flat piece of deer bone, a beaver incisor, and two chert cores.

Burial 6 (next to burial 5) was a middle-aged male. A pair of cut bear jaws and a number of shell beads were placed next to his right elbow.

Burial 7 (in the south end of the burial pit) was an elderly female. There were no grave offerings with her burial.

Burial 8 (against the south wall of the burial pit) was buried face-down; his age is estimated between 51 to 64 years old. Associated grave offerings include 3 sandstone abraders, an antler tine, a hollowed out piece of antler, and a few fragments of chert. A smoothed piece of deer bone was placed on the ribs of the burial.

Burial 9 (against the west wall) was that of a male, 55 years old. Under his neck was a large copper celt. Traces of fabric were preserved by the copper salts. A platform pipe decorated with the head and forepart of bear was found associated with the skull of the burial; the eyes of the bear were inlaid with copper and the surface of the pipe was highly polished. A cache of flint knapping tools were associated with burial 9. The tool kit included a chert flake knife, six antler drifters (or punches), 2 antler tines (or pressure flaking tools), a piece of cannel coal, an abrader of sandstone, the distal half of a raccoon's penis bone, 11 beaver incisors, a copper tool with antler handle, a small copper adze, and a bone knife.

Burial 10 was made in the deep central pit of the burial chamber. An old woman, 65 to 71 years of age, was buried in the central pit with offerings of a clay pipe and an unworked clam shell.


Copper celt, bear jars and other grave offerings found in the central burial chamber.


Flint knapping tool kit in the Northwest corner of the burial chamber and associated with burial 9.


Flint knapping tool kit in the Northeast corner of the burial chamber and associated with burial 5.


Tool kit artifacts from the Northwest cache.


Tool kit artifacts from Northeast cache.


Profile drawing, colorized, of the Ethel R. Wilson mound 6.


Pipes (a to d), turtle shell, and shell cup from the Ethel R. Wilson mound 6.


Location of mound 6 to several other mounds at the Ethel R. Wilson site.


Images scanned from this report:

Neumann, Georg K. and Melvin L. Fowler
1952 Hopewellian Sites in the Lower Wabash Valley. Hopewellian Communities in Illinois. Illinois State Museum Scientific Papers, Springfield.
Webpage constructed 25 January 2010