Moundville is located 13 miles south of Tuscaloosa on the Black Warrior River, and it consists of 29 large earthen mounds that were constructed by the prehistoric inhabitants of the region. There are still many mysteries about the original residents, but thankfully much information has been gleaned by the wealth of artifacts that they left behind. Dr. Blitz writes that “The people of Moundville had legends, songs, and tales that were told through generations, faint echoes of which are still heard in native oral tradition.”
In the late 1800s, a farmer discovered a beautifully preserved stone disk engraved with two rattlesnakes among the mounds, and he took the artifact to Eugene A. Smith, founder of the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Soon after, with the aid of funds provided by Congress, the archeological site of Moundville began to excavated. In 1905, the gentleman archaeologist Clarence B. Moore began to extensively excavate the site and carefully document his discoveries, and he uncovered some of the most extraordinary prehistoric artifacts ever found in the Southeast.
It came to light that Moundville was once a vast compound, a fortified town, and consisted of an assortment of houses and fields, a center for religious ceremonies, and a large graveyard. The mounds themselves were used for civic and sacred purposes and for the homes of nobles. Later in the early 20th century the Civilian Conservative Corps (CCC) undertook extensive excavations at Moundville and interest in the site was revived. The University of Alabama began a concentrated effort to rebuild and redefine the Jones archeological museum in 1999, which resulted in a $5 million renovation. The Jones Museum is home to more than 200 artifacts and features the immersive, informative “Lost Realm of the Black Warrior” exhibit. The remodeled museum opened to the public in 2010.
Knight, Vernon James, Jr., Ed. The Moundville Expedition of Clarence Bloomfield Moore. The University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa and London, 1996.