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Toolesboro Mounds

The Toolesboro Mounds in Louisa County, Iowa, were constructed by a group named the Hopewell after a farmer who discovered the mounds on his land (it is unknown what the people referred to themselves as, since all history regarding the group was found through archaeological digs rather than through written history). The Hopewell people lived in villages along the riverbank, and lived on a diet formed around hunting and gathering. Taking on the name Hopewell tradition, the set of burial mounds were a part of the religious ceremonies performed by the Hopewell. Mounds were built on high bluffs and were a honor meant for the burial of leaders, chiefs and priests. The Toolesboro area has seven conical (round-shaped) burial mounds overlooking the Iowa River. The process of building and burying the deceased was completed in several different ways.The deceased were place either lying down or in a sitting position against the side of the tomb. Some were cremated, while others were place in charnel houses to decompose and be buried on a later date. The deceased were buried with objects and exotic goods that symbolized their power and leadership qualities, such as strength, bravery or courage. Building a mound began with a ground layer of sand or clay, with a raised platform on which the bodies were laid. The platform was then covered with layers of sand, clay, soil or gravel to a make a mound shape. Logs or stone slabs may have also been placed around the tomb and then covered with soil. Near 500 AD, the Hopewell traditions of mound building began to decrease. It is unclear what happened to the Hopewell people, but historians suggest that they could have migrated south to joined the Mississippian tradition group or another group. During the mid-nineteenth century, excavations on the mounds began. Near the closing of the century, the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences took over excavations and found artifacts including copper tools, stone platform pipes, shell and pearl beads, chipped stone tools, and mica sheets, as well as the human remains within the mounds. By using unethical and improper techniques, the Academy partly destroyed the mounds, resulting in loss of artifacts (mounds have since been restored). As settlement began to increase and fields were cleared, farmers began to destroy the mounds, unknown that they were more than just a hill. In 1963, the mounds were donated to the State of Iowa by the George H. Mosier family. In 1966, the land became a National Historic Landmark, and in 1969, the Educational Center and Museum was built, as managed by the State Historical Society of Iowa.
U.S. Chronology
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Relational Notes
Resource is related to the following objects, which can be found by searching the catalog number in the advanced search section: Catalog #: 2018.029.002- Cradleboard 2018.039.003- Arrowhead 2018.039.002- Pottery 2018.039.004- Axe Head 2018.039.006- Brooch
Iowa County