As the editor of Cobblestone, It is rare for me to know nothing about a theme before I begin working on it, but that’s what happened with the October 2015 issue on Spiro. My colleague, Rosalie Baker, invited me to do a companion issue on the subject with Dig Into History, Cricket Media’s magazine about world history and archaeology. Turns out, Spiro makes a great issue for a magazine about U.S. history, too.
First of all, Spiro is an archaeological site in eastern Oklahoma. It was part of a mound-builders site that dates to A.D. 800. It wasn’t until 1933, however, that archaeologist became aware of its existence, and it wasn’t until 1935 that an amazing discovery was made there. While digging at the site, pothunters broke through the walls of a well-preserved central chamber in one of the mounds. They found items that had been untouched for almost 500 years. For the pothunters, the artifacts could be sold for much-needed money during the Great Depression. But for archaeologists and historians, the discovery resulted in the destruction of a remarkable site.
Today, archaeologist have theories about why such a vast collection of items were buried in that central chamber, and their studies of other mound-building sites have revealed evidence of a large trade network among Native American cultures hundreds of years ago. I think the October issue on Spiro truly supports how exciting the study of history is, and how there are still opportunities to discover and learn things about our past.
If you are ever out in Oklahoma, I recommend a stop at Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center. If you enjoy reading about prehistoric people and seeing photos of what they built or crafted, imagine how you will feel when you actually visit a prehistoric site and walk around in the environment known to have been inhabited by Native Americans. The center, which preserves more than 150 acres, is overseen by the Oklahoma Historical Society. It offers two miles of interpretive trails as well as exhibits and a slide show. For more information, visit Spiro Mounds in Spiro, Oklahoma, or check out its Web site at www.okhistory.org/sites/spiromounds.php.