When European travelers explored the North American continent, they were amazed to find massive earthen mound structures. These structures may not have been as grandiose as the pyramids and temples of other civilizations, but they were grand spectacles themselves. The 5 tallest ancient mounds in North American can be shown in the chart below.
Located mainly in the North American Midwest and Southeast, historians now attribute the mound structures to the Adena, Hopewell and Mississippian cultures. The first Spanish chroniclers in North America such as Hernando de Soto in the 1540s described the mounds and cultures that lived there.
Unfortunately, between de Soto’s travels and the French and English settlers arrival the Native American civilizations were greatly transformed and reduced by European introduced diseases. Given the racial ideology of the times, early English and French settlers thought it was impossible that the local natives could have built such structures. Theories of the true builders ranged from the Toltecs, to Vikings and even Welshmen.
The structures ultimately proved that advanced ancient North American civilizations did exist. To build these massive structures, tens of thousands of people must have lived at or near the sites. The cultures also must have had a unified political entity to organize such projects and an agricultural surplus to support the builders.
The 5 Tallest Ancient Mounds in North America
The largest of these cultures was at Cahokia, outside modern day St Louis. At its height, between 25,000-50,000 people lived there and built the tallest earthen structure in North America, now called Monk’s Mound. At about 100 ft, the platform mound was likely used for religious ceremonies.
Other cultures built tall conical mounds to be used as burial mounds. Both the Grave Creek Mound (in West Virginia) and Miamisburg Mound (in Ohio) were conical burial mounds.
The Etowah Temple Mound (in Georgia) was also a platform mound. Nearly 3 acres at its base and taller than a six story building, it likely held 4 major structures and a courtyard on its platform.
The Moundville Mound (in Alabama) was a 58 ft tall pyramidal shaped mound. The Moundville culture was likely the second largest of the Mississippian cultures, behind only Cahokia.
Source: Crystal Links