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Visitors will discover an archaeological treasure at Towosahgy State Historic Site. Located in southern Mississippi County, the site preserves the remains of a once flourishing Indian community. Towosahgy (tah-wah-saw-ge), is a borrowed Osage Indian word meaning “Old Town.” It was the location of a once-fortified Indian village and ceremonial center between A.D. 1000 and 1400.
Other groups of Indians had lived in this area for 9,000 years prior to the founding of the village. Their societies did not reach the highly organized level of the Indians at Towosahgy. The inhabitants of the village were part of the Mississippian cultural tradition. Their name is due to the fact that most of these archaeological sites are located near the Mississippi River.
Different from their predecessors, the Indians who lived at Towosahgy were town dwellers. There were other, smaller hamlets within a short distance of the main town. The entire area formed a well-developed cultural and political system. The well-constructed dwellings, utensils and other artifacts uncovered at the site indicate the inhabitants led a relatively comfortable lifestyle.
FOOD & CULTURE
The residents of Towosahgy raised crops of beans, as well as, maize, squash and sunflowers. These crops were raised in fields outside the walls that surrounded the village. They also lived off wild game, as well as, fish, persimmons, wild plums and a variety of nuts. They relied on trade to obtain other necessary items such as salt and paint, as well as, chert for tools and ceremonial materials. For transportation, they may have used large dugout canoes. Their houses were constructed by digging a shallow pit. This left the floor of the structure below the surface of the ground. Walls were built of small posts placed in narrow trenches. A central fire hearth and associated packed clay floor mark the original floors of these houses.
Today, all that is visible are the remains of the earthen mounds within the village area. Six of the seven mounds still exist and surround the central plaza. This is where various civic and religious ceremonies were held. The largest mound is located at the north end of the plaza. It is about 180 feet wide by 250 feet long at is base, and about 16 feet high. All of the earth within the mounds was dug by hand. It was then carried in baskets from borrow pits such as the large pit west of this mound. A palisade for protection against enemies surrounded the entire area.
A kiosk provides interpretive information about the village and its inhabitants. A trail leads visitors to the mounds and other areas of the village. Here you can imagine this once-thriving culture found in this area hundreds of years ago.
PARK HOURS & FEES
County Road 502,
East Prairie, MO 63845
For more information about this historic site click HERE.
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