Mound Bottom is a large Mississippian Period town and ceremonial site located on the Harpeth River in Cheatham County, Tennessee. The town is probably more than a thousand years old, estimated to have been populated between around 900 AD and 1300 AD based on radio carbon dating. It’s owned by the state and is a unit of Harpeth River State Park.
The site contains 14 mounds surrounding a plaza area, including a large platform mound. This mound probably supported the house of the town leader and/or a town house or temple used for civic or religious purposes. Results of archaeological excavations conducted in 1926 indicate that all of the mounds around the plaza supported some type of buildings, possibly the homes of town officials. Most of the people lived in houses arranged in rows outside the mounds around the plaza. The town was enclosed on the north, east, and south sides by a wooden palisade.
Mound Bottom was probably a part of a larger civic/ceremonial center. To the south about a mile away lies the Pack Site, 4 times larger than Mound Bottom, located on private property. Strong evidence suggests the two sites were contemporary, although the last archaeological work conducted on the Pack Site was done before radiocarbon dating so the evidence isn’t conclusive.
The Mound Bottom site is only accessible to the public through hikes led by Harpeth River State Park rangers. Currently the park is offering hikes every Sunday. Registration is required – see the Harpeth River State Park Events page for more info.
Mound Bottom State Archaeological Area Links
Mound Bottom by Kevin E. Smith, Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, Version 2.0.
Mound Bottom Articles by Kevin Markuson (the source for our facts above), published in The Advocate newspaper.
Mound Bottom State Archaeological Area web site.
Mound Bottom is under the management of Harpeth River State Park: