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Again, Seriously!?

Friday, January 22, 2010

(this pic I took this past summer, at the Davis Farm complex looking across to the stone mound)
Yesterday, the Anniston Star ran two interesting stories about Indian mounds and development. The stories were also reported on the local news last night.

At first, I was thinking: we already know about the mound (remember the whole thing about the stone mound at the top of the hill pictured in the background of this pic above? How the city was using dirt from the hill as fill for the development of a new shopping center?) so what's the news?

It's a *whole different mound* that...just...isn't there anymore. Since this past summer. On land the city of Oxford is developing. Oh, and there's this too:

"UA called, said they found a body, said it was Native American, said it was reburied and the site is being avoided," Hathorn said.

There isn't anyone that didn't know that this land had mounds and artifacts on it. The mound that's been absolutely flattened was at the Davis Farm. The Davis Farm has been well-documented about what's there; the 1850s house was even built on a mound...so...

From this January 20, 2010 article at the Anniston Star:

Alabama's state archeologist confirmed Thursday that crews building Oxford's multi-million-dollar sports complex uncovered human remains at site.

Stacye Hathorn, the state archeologist who works for the Alabama Historical Commission, said officials with the University of Alabama Office of Archeology, contacted her around Jan. 8 with their findings.

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Earlier this week, Jacksonville State Univerity professor of archaeology and anthropology Harry Holstein said the site at the historic Davis Farm property in Oxford contained remnants of an American Indian village and the 3-foot-high base of a once 30-foot-high temple mound. He says the mound may have contained human remains.

Holstein said the 3-foot mound has vanished, but the city claims it is still intact and hasn't been disturbed. A reporter visited the site this week and found no evidence of the mound.

and another January 20, 2010 article at the Anniston Star:

When Holstein visited the site last summer, it was still intact.

But when he returned to the area Monday, he could find no sign of the mound or the village remnants.

The land is now flat, with tire tread marks clearly visible in the dirt.

"It's been flattened like a pancake," Holstein said. "There is just grass over it now."

Holstein believes the temple mound and village are related to a stone mound on a hill behind the Oxford Exchange. Last year workers hired by the city of Oxford attempted to destroy that mound and use the dirt below it as fill for a Sam's Club. Following protests from local residents and activists, the contractor hired by the city's Commercial Development Authority apparently stopped work there, and a private landowner says he is now providing fill dirt from his property.

The city is constructing its new sports complex on land near the former Davis Farm property on the other side of Leon Smith Parkway. The area near the location of the temple mound on the Davis Farm site is slated to become ball parks.

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Before construction began, Holstein and other JSU researchers prepared a report for the city. The report said the Davis Farm property contained some of the most significant archaeological sites in northeast Alabama. It recommended the city leave the sites alone.

City officials agreed to the recommendation and told the Alabama Historical Commission the site would be left alone, Denney said.

Stacye Hathorn, Alabama Historical Commission state archaeologist, confirmed Tuesday the city agreed not to disturb the sites.

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"There was a big noticeable hump … maybe somebody stole it at night," Holstein said, jokingly. "(It) has been here since the 12th century and now it's gone. It was there when the city bought the property."

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Mayor Leon Smith said Tuesday there should be archaeologists at the site, but did not know if they found anything. Smith said he was not familiar with the city's agreement to avoid disturbing the Davis Farm site.

"Fred Denney knows more about that than I do," he said. "If there is anything wrong out there, I don't know anything about it."

Holstein said he never came into contact with any Alabama archaeologists during his examination of the area.

According to the JSU report, which noted 12 separate excavations conducted by researchers, all of the sites on the Davis Farm property yielded hundreds of artifacts, indicating the area was occupied for thousands of years by prehistoric American Indian populations. The artifacts included gaming stones, greenstone tool fragments, and large amounts of ceramics and house wall fragments.

Records indicate much of the temple mound was bulldozed by farmers in the 1950s, Holstein said. He said the apparent loss of the village and mound was significant.

"History is important," he said. "There was a high probability there were human remains under that mound. It would be like tearing down Abe Lincoln's cabin."

To Holstein, the sites could have been restored and turned into an attraction similar to Moundville, near Tuscaloosa.

"I'm not against development," Holstein said. "But you can work with the natural and cultural resources."

I'm sure there will be more at the Anniston Star today.

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