Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site


Painting by Herb Roe

The Kincaid Mounds Illinois Historic Site consists of 105 acres at the heart of Kincaid Mounds Archaeological Site. Portions of the Archaeological Site extend to private property north and east of the Historic Site. The State property has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places of the United Sates. The Kincaid Mounds Support Organization is a local non-profit corporation that manages the site under contract with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. At present, public access is limited to an observation/interpretation platform adjacent to Kincaid Mounds Road (see location at the top of this page). The goals for the Historic Site include preservation of the archaeological resource, facilitation of research, and interpretation of the site to the public.


Between 1000 and 700 years ago, the first people to practice large scale agriculture in the southern Illinois area established Kincaid Mounds as the seat of the Chiefdom. these Native Americans were of the Mississippian culture and occupied Kincaid from approximately 1050 AD to 1400 AD. They were ruled by a chief who inherited his position and probably claimed power from the sun. Corn or maize farmers in the lowlands along the Ohio River from Hamletsburg upstream to Brookport downstream supported the leaders with grain and constructed the mounds we see today. They, also, constructed the buildings and the protective wall or palisade that encircled the principal mounds, but which we now know only from the archaeological record.

The mounds are raised platforms on which the Chief and other elite leaders of this society lived or ruled from, and on which thatch-roofed homes, ceremonial buildings, and temples were constructed. The mounds were built in stages over a 350 year period by stacking basket loads of selected soil and clay material one on top of another. They stand today much as they appeared 700 years ago.


Visitors to the site will see flat-topped 30 foot tall mounds arcing around the leveled plaza area. This plaza was probably the most important public place in the Chiefdom. It was used for both social and political activities. Here the chunky game was played and major ceremonies were held, including purification rituals and celebration of the new corn crop. The plaza may have had a ceremonial pole in or near it where trophies of war were displayed for public observation.


Kincaid has played a major role in the development of modern American archaeology. From 1934 until 1944 the University of Chicago excavated here and developed many of the methods that became the basis for much of today’s archaeological practice. Southern Illinois University is actively continuing archaeological studies at Kincaid and continues to add to our knowledge of this outstanding prehistoric site.

Field Day 2023, New Release

Kincaid Mounds Historic Site Archaeology Field Day Saturday, October 14, 2023 Kincaid Mounds Historic Site, Massac County, Illinois The Kincaid Mounds Archaeology Field Day program is scheduled for Saturday,October 14, 2023, at the Kincaid Mounds Historic Site, hosted by the Kincaid MoundsSupport Organization and Illinois Department of Natural Resources.Formal programs will be held at 10:00 a.m., with a presentation by Dr. Paul Welch,Chair and Associate Professor

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Field Day 2023, October 14th

The Kincaid Mounds Archaeological Field Day Saturday, October 14, 2023 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM The Kincaid Support Organization will present a program at the Kincaid Mounds Historic Site. Formal presentations on the Mississippian Culture will begin at 10:00 AM and end at 1:00 PM. There will be artifact displays, information tables, and a walking tour of Mound 8.(hiking shoes recommended) The program is free to

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