The Norman Mound Site
Mound at the Norman Site
The Norman site is a ceremonial mound complex, along
with the Harlan site
and Spiro site, in eastern
Oklahoma linked to a broad group of sites across the Southeast with
apparent similarities in rituals, ceremonial artifacts and lifestyle.
These were ranked societies with outlying farming villages supporting
the priest/chief classes based at the mound center. Trading between
these centers and other parts of the continent was widespread.
The Norman site is largely under the Ft. Gibson reservoir
today. It consisted of three large, and several smaller, mounds
on a terrace of the Neosho River less than four miles west of the
Harlan mound center. Archaeological work at the Norman site consisted
of WPA excavations in the 1930s and salvage excavations during the
late 1940s as the reservoir was being completed.
Limited analysis of the materials recovered from these
excavations seems to show that the Norman site became a center of
power as the Harlan site was being abandoned. Burials placed in
the Norman mounds contained grave goods of later styles than those
found at the Harlan site.
The chiefs at the Norman site relied on villagers
in outlying communities to build the mounds. The mounds were built
in stages and often had structures on them which were burned and
buried under baskets of earth. The structures may have been mortuary
houses where the honored dead were kept until they were reburied
under another stage of the mound.
Grave goods found with the burials marked the status
of the dead. Stone earspools, covered in copper, finely-worked chert
blades and points, pots, baskets of corn, and elaborate pipes were
buried along with the bodies of the chiefs.
The Norman site may have been ascendant in the area
for a century from around AD 1250-1350. It is believed that the
Spiro site supplanted the Norman site after this period.
Crumpled copper plate from the Norman site
For further reading:
Caddoan Archeology, Vol. 11, No. 1-2. Series of articles
on the Norman site.