The Moon Over the Mounds program at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park began at least 15 years ago as a way to invite people into the park to learn about the Native American mounds there in a different way.
“Showing people the park at night has a different allure than your normal daytime visit,” Marla Chancey, park services specialist, told ICMN. The events are held from September through March not only to draw visitors, but to raise funds for ongoing initiatives at the park.
One of those initiatives included updating this video that is shown at the center:
What will attendees at these events learn about the Native American mounds? They will get an overview of the site, where there are burial mounds, temple/platform mounds, and a plaza area. They will also learn why it was a great place to gather for so many years. Moonlit tours of the Native American mounds are led by retired park rangers as well as archaeologists like Gary Ellis, director emeritus of Gulf Archaeology Research Institute.
During a Moon Over the Mounds walk held February 10, Ellis noted that the site is a National Historic Landmark and still retains most of its cultural integrity, and the park service intends on keeping it that way. Rangers make sure the Native American mounds are protected from the possibility of falling trees, which are removed if deemed dangerous.
The area was occupied from about 1500 BC to about 1300 AD, and according to Ellis is the best example of a burial complex in the southeast. He noted that burial complexes are common in the Ohio River Valley, but not so much in the southeast.
“To see it in Florida, in this context and almost the only one of its kind with a society that is essentially hunters and gatherers, that’s a pretty marvelous thing,” Ellis told the nearly 90 attendees gathered on February 10.
The next Moon Over the Mounds event will be held on March 10 at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, 3400 N. Museum Point in Crystal River, Florida. For more information call (352) 795-3817.
This story was originally published March 3, 2017.