Is next great exploration in our backyard?

Published 12:05 am Thursday, July 25, 2019

Ever since man landed on the moon, Americans have been looking to the stars for the next great adventure.

From Apollo 11 to the space shuttles and the Mars Rover mission, our country’s most significant achievements in space exploration continue to kindle human beings’ desire to venture beyond our fragile planet into the solar system and beyond.

In the same week the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, residents received a reminder last week that the world buried in our backyard is just as mysterious and intriguing as the planets and stars above.

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Using maps from the early 1700s and the latest advances in radar technology, archaeologists have found evidence of a lost mound built by the Natchez Indians, buried several feet below the surface.

The early maps suggest that five mounds existed on the site of the Grand Village of Natchez Indians, where only three mounds exist today.

What happened to two of the mounds is a mystery that may soon be solved.

For the past several weeks Tony Boudreaux, the director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Mississippi, and a team of archaeologists have been digging at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. Marble-like patterns found during their excavations, along with other finds, lead Boudreaux to believe that his team has discovered the corner of one of the missing mounds.

If Boudreaux’s findings are confirmed, the discovery leads to more questions left to explore about the Natchez Indians, especially as it relates to French colonization.

Further studies could lead to a new way of interpreting the Grand Village story for locals and tourists.

In a way, archaeologists have discovered another piece of the DNA of our community — a story just as mysterious and intriguing as the heavens above.