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Archaeological Conservancy Acquires Mound Four

The Archaeological Conservancy, established in 1980 and based in Albuquerque, New Mexico is the only national non-profit organization dedicated to acquiring and preserving the best of our nation's remaining archaeological sites. Since its establishment the Conservancy has acquired 375 historical sites in 39 states across America.

One of the conservancy's most recent acquisitions is Mound 4 of the Troyville site in Jonesville. Below is an article that appeared in American Archaeology magazine.

A Reminder of Troyville
The Conservancy saves a mound from a 1,400-year-old site in Louisiana
By: Jessica Crawford

The Conservancy has acquired part of Troyville, a mound group that was once believed to have been largely destroyed. Named for the 18th-century plantation on which it was located, Troyville was situated at the confluence of the Tensas, Ouachita, and Little Rivers. It is the type-site for the Troyville culture and dates to approximately A.D. 600.

Troyville’s large, elaborate, platform mounds were presumably used for public rituals or ceremonies. The earliest descriptions of Troyville indicate it held as few as six and as many as 12 mounds, but all accounts agree that the site was dominated by what was called the Great Mound, which stood approximately 80 feet high and consisted of three levels—two rectangular mounds, crowned by a conical mound. The Great Mound was surrounded by smaller mounds ranging in heights from 12 to 20 feet. Troyville also had an embankment on its southern and western sides.

Troyville suffered as the region was settled. In 1871, the town of Jonesville was established on top of the site and by 1896 one of the smaller mounds on the riverfront had been graded to allow better access to the steamboat wharf. Several other mounds served as foundations for buildings and houses. At that point, the Great Mound had been reduced to about 45 feet. By 1931, most of the mound was sold as fill dirt that was used in a bridge construction project.

The Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology’s Winslow Walker visited the site a few months after the Great Mound was nearly leveled and determined that Troyville still contained valuable information, so he excavated the site in 1932. His “discoveries included split-cane domes 25 feet in diameter, wooden planks up to seven feet in length, palmetto covered floors, a palisade wall at the base of the mound, log steps up the corner of the mound, and layers of cane matting secured to the mound with wooden stakes,” says Joe Saunders of the Louisiana Division of Archaeology. “His 1936 report included 12 photographs of his phenomenal finds.”

Walker identified the smaller mounds, the remains of which were scattered among neighborhood yards, churches, and other buildings. Years later, Saunders and his colleague, archaeologist Reca Bamburg-Jones, identified a large part of Troyville that was hidden beneath the modern town of Jonesville, including the remains of one of he mounds, known as Mound 4, in the backyard of an old house. Saunders dug a test unit in the mound and uncovered a pit with over 1,100 pottery sherds, suggesting that, although it’s been reduced to a height of about five feet, it still contains valuable information.

With the help of a memorial fund established for Louisiana’s late State Archaeologist, Tom Eubanks, the Conservancy purchased the site from C.R. Craddock, whose wife’s family owned the property for many years. The old house was recently torn down, and the Conservancy will landscape and fence the site. Mound 4 will now serve as a research preserve that suggests the glory of ancient Troyville.

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606 Mound Street     Jonesville, LA 71343     Voice: 318-201-4097