Mound Archaeology

The Mound Area: A Brief Overview

Town Creek Indian Mound is the only state historic site in North Carolina dedicated to interpreting the state's Indian heritage. It has been the focus of extensive archaeological investigation since 1937, when the site was acquired by the state.

Joffre Lanning Coe speaks to some visitors of the archaeological excavationMost of the research at Town Creek was directed by UNC-Chapel Hill archaeologist Joffre Coe and his associates. Though the University of North Carolina has curatorial responsibility for archaeological collections excavated at the site, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources retains permanent stewardship of these collections and the records associated with them.

The mound area at Town Creek is a rectangular block 120 feet by 140 feet, encompassing the mound (originally referred to as the "Frutchey" Mound—after Lloyd Frutchey, who conveyed the site to the state in 1937) and the village area immediately adjacent to the mound. This area has been designated "31Mg2" by archaeologists.

portrait of Joffre Lanning CoeThe remainder of the site, encompassing the stockaded village, is designated "31Mg 3."

Between 1937 and 1942, archaeological work at "31Mg 2" was supported by the federal government. In 1937, excavations were conducted through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). During 1938 and 1939, excavations were conducted through the National Youth Administration; and from 1940 to 1942, the archaeology was again conducted through the WPA. Between 1945 and 1955, when archaeological excavation of "31Mg 2" was completed, investigations were funded by the State of North Carolina.

Sixty-one human burials (designated Burials 1-61) were encountered during archaeological excavation of "31Mg 2." All are associated with the Pee Dee phase occupation of the site.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill curates skeletal remains from all of these burials except the following, which were either badly disturbed by prior looting or not present: Burial 9, Burials 18-20, Burial 35, Burials 50-51, and Burial 60.

Funerary objects associated with 16 of these burials are also curated by UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition, human bones were recovered from two pit features, general excavations, and backfill dirt.

NOTE: "Pee Dee" phase (A.D. 1100-1400) is an archaeological designation. The North American Indians who lived here remain culturally unafilliated with historic tris like the Catawba, Lumbee, or Cherokee.