What is a Platform Mound?; Chinese Painted Bronze Mirror; Bilzingsleben, Germany.

What is a Platform Mound?

A platform mound is a structure built of earth and stone with the intention of holding a building. They are found in North, Central and South America. Dating from the Woodland Period (1000 BCE – 1000 CE) they are associated with the following cultures

  • Coles Creek Culture
  • Mississippi Culture
  • Plaquemine Culture
  • Poverty Point Culture
  • Troyville Culture
Mississippian Culture Mound © Herb Roe
Mississippian Culture Mound
© Herb Roe

The mounds had four sides, were shaped like a pyramid, had steps made from wood ascending to the top, and were surrounded by a boundary wall. They were sites of significance and supported buildings such as temples, town/earth houses, or the chief or leaders house. It is also beleived they were used for places of sacred displays and dance platforms. Some of the mounds had different levels that would have each had their own significant use.

Platform Mound and Steps ©By James Steakley
Platform Mound and Steps
©By James Steakley

The mounds were added to over time and eventually went out of use. They are amazing structures to visit, with most having their own museums – check them out and learn all about the past cultures that built them!



  • Morgan. W. N. 2014. Ancient Architecture of the Southwest. Texas: University of Texas Press.
  • Peregrine. P. N. , & Ember. M. 2001. Encyclopaedia of Prehistory: Volume 6: North America. New York: Springer.
  • Mississippian Culture Mound – © Herb Roe [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Platform Mound and Steps – ©By James Steakley (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons


Archaeology Wow!! – Chinese Painted Bronze Mirror

Chinese bronze painted mirrors are beautiful small artefacts that really show how talented the early chinese craftspeople were.

Bronze Mirror Western Han ©Public Domain
Bronze Mirror Western Han
©Public Domain

This one mirror measures only 23 cm and dates to c.208-206 BCE. It comes from the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). The Dynasty were led by Emperor Gaozu who started out as a peasant. The mirror has a green outer ring and then a painted red ring. The pictures include people sitting and standing, a single horse and rider galloping, green clouds and a chariot being pulled by white horses with people in it. Pieces of landscape are also shown. There are more inner rings with floral designs and a central piece that sticks out slightly.

Detail of Painted Bronze Mirror ©Public Domain
Detail of Painted Bronze Mirror
©Public Domain

Mirrors were used for personal grooming but they were also believed to hold magic with the reflective side reflecting the light of the soul of the person using it.

The mirrors are beautifully made and intricate. Check out the other examples in the list of web pages below!!


  • Ropp. P. S. , & Barrett. T. H. 1990. Heritage of China: Contemporary Perspectives on Chinese Civilization. California: University of California Press.
  • Sullivan. M. 1962. The Birth of Landscape Painting in China. California: University of California Press.



Archaeological Site Guide – Bilzingsleben, Germany

Bilzingsleben is a site located in the Wipper Valley in Germany. It dates from 280,000 – 250,000 years ago which places it in the Lower Paleolithic Period (410,000 – 318,000 BC).

 Bilzingsleben Bone Fragment © By José-Manuel Benito
Bilzingsleben Bone Fragment
© By José-Manuel Benito

Bones were discovered back in the 19th century but excavations did not occur until the 1960’s – 1970’s under the direction of archaeologist Dietrich Mania, and again in the 1990’s under archaeologist Jurgen Vollbrecht.

Excavations have uncovered the site of early people with artefacts of bone, wood and antler. Some bone had been worked by flaking, and other pieces had marks on them, as in the above picture, which is beleived to be really early art work.

The signs of oval huts were uncovered which measured 10 x 13 ft as well as places where fires had been lit. This indicates that there may well have been some sort of social structure amongst the people.

Hominin Bone Fragment © www.steinrinne-bilzingsleben.com
Hominin Bone Fragment
© www.steinrinne-bilzingsleben.com

Human remains include two segments of skull, possibly Homo erectus. Other remains include bones belonging to bison, rhino, elephants, hyenas, lions and wolves.

 A great site showing early settlement of people in Germany!


  • Gamble. C. 1999. The Palaeolithic Societies of Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Rudgley. R. 2000. The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age. Cammeray, NSW: Simon & Schuster.
  • Bilzingsleben Bone Fragment – © By José-Manuel Benito (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Great Books to Read…….



Great Web Pages to Look At…….


Activity –  Word Search 16 January 2015 docx

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