A Visit to 200 B.C.
Last weekend on our way back from Memphis, Tonya and I decided to check out one of two State Archaeological Parks in Tennessee. This one was Pinson Mounds on the boarder of Madison and Chester Counties just south of Jackson. Pinson Mounds is home to the 2nd tallest mound (Saul’s Mound) in the United States at 72 feet. I happen to know firsthand that is approximately 127 steps up and down with no seating along the way. While Pinson Mounds is small in total acreage compared to many if not most other parks in TN at only 1200 acres, this historical significance of this park is amazing. There are at least 17 earthen mounds covering nearly 400 acres of the park. These mounds were constructed during the Middle Woodland Period (200 B.C. to 500 A.D.) and it is the largest mound center in the entire Southeast. That means that these mounds may have been built as many as 2,200 years ago!
It’s almost impossible to even begin to understand how or why a people would go to such lengths to build such a monument. Some suggest that it represented the 4 corners of the compass as it has a very distinct North-South-East-West footprint and from the top it is possible to see small communities which are many miles away. As we stood at the top and were taking in the sheer beauty and magnificence of the mound, we found ourselves quietly reflecting on what was around us. While Pinson mounds is on the National Register of Historic Places and was first documented in 1820 by local surveyor Joel Pinson, most had not heard of it until the 1950’s and 60’s. That is when local residents requested that the State of Tennessee purchase the land to preserve it as a park. I found it a bit ironic that in the midst of trying to imagine this place in 200 B.C., I was using satellite technology enhanced GPS and Google Maps on my phone to pinpoint within 3 feet exactly where I was on the planet. I even used the satellite images to identify small communities dotting the horizon with about the only identifiable landmark available being lonely water towers.
As Tonya and I continue on our journey to see as many Tennessee parks and historical sites as possible, we continue to find random and spur of the moment places such as Pinson Park. The funny thing is, that the more we seek out these beautiful, historic, and scenic places, it never fails that as we see that wonderful “Welcome to Mount Juliet” sign we appreciate what we have right here even more. Not only do we get to appreciate our family, friends, and neighbors, but we also grow even more to appreciate the beautiful state in which we get to call home.