About 100 B.C., the Hopewell culture began to flourish in what is now Illinois, Ohio, and other parts of the Midwest. Hopewell groups shared four traits. First, they built groups of mounds and embankments, some of which were hundreds of acres in size. Second, they had elaborate graves inside some mounds. Third, they made artifacts of materials that came from far away. Fourth, they made special styles of decorated pots and pipes.
Hopewell ideas swept across most of eastern North America. They spread down the Mississippi Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. Each community decided which customs to follow and how to change them to fit their way of life. The Hopewell customs in use at Marksville were 1) mounds and embankments, 2) burial traditions, and 3) pottery decorations.
The earthworks at Marksville are similar to, but not exactly like, those in the north. For example, in Ohio, people built embankments in circles, squares, octagons, parallel lines, and other shapes. At the Marksville site, people built a large semi-circle and a small circle. They even made very small circular earthworks known as “rings.” Rings have not been found at any other Hopewell site. They may be related to a special activity that took place only at Marksville.
One of the mounds at Marksville, Mound 4, is a burial mound. Some of the tombs in this mound are built with logs and cane mats. These graves are very much like Hopewell tombs in mounds in Arkansas and Illinois. Only a few of the people who used the Marksville site were buried in this mound. Those individuals and their families likely were important leaders in the community.
(Above) Some of Marksville’s mounds would have stood out not only for their shape and arrangement, but also for their color. Marksville’s mounds were built with different colors of soil.
(Below) Hopewell sites vary a lot in size and form, even though many have large embankments and mounds.
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