Last week I had my World Prehistory class engage in a little experimental archaeology. I told them that we would explore the labor and leadership requirements for the building of monumental architecture. We decided to replicate a Woodland tradition earthen mound – only we used whatever equipment we could find in my lab and snow to build with. It took less than an hour to build our 6 foot high mound.
According to our calculations we would need to repeat our mound-building efforts 4545 times in order to build a respectible 30 ft tall Hopewellian mound, or 14,285 times to accomplish the average of the 14 construction efforts for Monks Mound. As in all classic experimental archaeology exercises, this one certainly gave us a unique perspective on monumental architecture of the ancient world.