Mounds is one of the most significant Native American archaeological
sites in Tennessee.
The mounds were constructed during the Middle Woodland period
(ca. A.D. 1-500). The Woodland Indians were the first farmers
in West Tennessee, having introduced the cultivation of corn
and squash into the region. The Pinson Mounds site illustrates
the transition of the Woodlands Indians from hunting and
gathering to a more settled, agricultural existence. This National
Landmark, which has been maintained as a state park since
1974, contains at least fifteen mounds, most of which seem to
been used for ceremonial purposes. The 72-foot tall Saul’s
Mound is the largest, while the Ozier Mound is one of the
oldest known ceremonial mounds of its type in the country.
offers exhibits on the ongoing archaeological work at Pinson
Pinson Mounds, one of two state archaeological
parks, is a special park, set aside to protect the prehistoric
remains found there. Managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment
and Conservation's Division of State Parks, the Pinson Mounds
grouping consists of at least 15 earthen mounds, a geometic enclosure,
habitation areas and related earthworks in an area that incorporates
almost 1,200 acres. Pinson Mounds is a national historic Landmark
and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Group
The park has a group camp that can accommodate 32 persons. There
are four cabins that sleep eight people each. The large main
building has a kitchen and meeting area, couches, chairs, color
TV, ping pong table, and a pay telephone. There are restrooms
with six showers as well as a washer and dryers. Campers should
provide their own dish towels, dishwasher detergent, dishwashing
liquid, single size sheets, pillows, pillow cases and blankets.
The kitchen is equipped with two electric ranges, two refrigerators,
one upright freezer (standard size), ice machine, grill, commercial
dishwasher and 30 cup coffeemaker.
The park offers six-miles
of trails including a nature trail and a boardwalk with a stop
overlooking the Forked Deer River
which borders the park.
Pinson Mounds was
discovered in 1820 by a crew surveying this part of the country
for land claims. The site was named after
one of the surveyors-Joel Pinson. The site remained relatively
unknown until the 1880's when J. G. Cisco, a Jackson newspaper
editor, became interested in it and began publicizing it. In
the early 1900's William E. Myer, an archaeologist with the
Smithsonian Institution, surveyed and mapped Pinson Mounds.
A copy of his map hangs in the museum. In the 1950's and 1960's,
local citizens, believing in the value of the site, convinced
the State to purchase the land and preserve it as a park.
Pinson Mounds is the largest Middle Woodland period mound group
in the United States, and dates to about 1-500 A.D. The Native
Americans that built the mounds lived long before historically
known Native American tribes, and used the site for ceremonial
purposes. The largest mounds were used for various ceremonies,
while a few of the smaller mounds, as well as the Twin Mounds,
held burials. A number of cremation and activity areas have been
There are 24
individual picnic areas scattered throughout the park. Each is
equipped with a table that seats 6-8 people and
a grill. There are also two large picnic shelters that can
accommodate up to 50 people each.
The park features a museum
designed to replicate a Native American mound. It includes 4,500
square feet of exhibit space, an archaeological
library, an 80-seat theater and 'Discovery Room' for historical
exploration, park offices and the West Tennessee Regional Archaeology
Office. A copy of Pinson's map hangs in the museum. The museum
is open year-round. Contact the park for more information.
The programs at Pinson
Mounds combine mystery and history together. The programs try
to utilize historical data to enrich and stimulate
the audience. The interaction with the group and the guide
are the key to our success. Contact the park for programs available.
Archaeofest and Special Events
is held in September and is a celebration of Native American
culture and archaeology. Enjoy a wide range of craft
demonstrations to include pottery, basketry, leatherwork, flintknapping
and chipping, and jewelry making. Children and adults of all
ages will enjoy the Native American story telling sessions.
films and festivals are scheduled from time to time. Fieldwork
is normally conducted in the summer,
and visitors are welcome to watch the archaeologists at work.
Contact the park for more information.