You are now standing upon the Eveland village site, located a few hundred yards southwest of the Dickson cemetery, an example of one of the earliest known Mississippian village sites in this area. Radiocarbon testing dated occupation of the site between approximately 1000 and 750 years ago. Excavations of this site revealed numerous storage pits, pottery fragments, stone, bone, and shell items.
The Mississippian period of Native American prehistory saw the development of a complex, agriculture-based society. Corn became an important part of their diet, although they also grew beans, squash, and sunflowers. Social hierarchies emerged, as did a rich array of accompanying material goods and religious and political symbols. This culture lasted until approximately 600 years ago, when evidence of it disappears from the archaeological record.
The remains of three structures have been preserved and covered with modern buildings for public viewing: a cross-shaped house, a large rectangular lodge or council house, and a circular house.
The cross-shaped house is the only one of three of its kind to be reported from archaeological excavation in the United States. Its four arms, which may have been rooms or alcoves, are oriented north, south, east, and west, leading scientists to speculate that this building might have had religious or ceremonial significance. This house was destroyed by fire approximately 1,000 years ago, and remains of charcoal timbers which fell from the roof are still visible, as are charred remains of acorn, hickory nuts, and corn.
The large rectangular lodge or council house was last occupied about 1140 A.D., when it was destroyed by fire. The fallen wall and roof timbers are left in place just as the archaeologists found them. The building extended partly underground and may have been covered with earth. When it burned, the earth covering fell down over the timbers, cutting off the air from the fire and reducing the timbers to charcoal instead of ash. Excavation of this house revealed a few fragments of pottery, remains of meals, and animal bones.
The circular house, which dates to about 1,000 years ago, may have been a sweat lodge. Unlike the other two houses on display, this one did not burn down; it simply decayed after it was abandoned. The framework was built of poles set into a circular wall trench to avoid digging individual post-holes. Pits inside this structure were used for storage.
The Eveland site was abandoned about 1200 A.D.