The indigenous people who lived here as early as 500 BC were part of the Hopewell culture, so named because of their existence was first learned of on the Hopewell farm in Ohio where similar mounds had been built. It is not known what the people called themselves or what language they spoke.
While still obtaining food largely through hunting and gathering, Woodland peoples began practicing basic horticulture of native plants. Woodland peoples are distinguished from earlier inhabitants by the development of pottery and the building of raised mounds near large villages for death and burial ceremonies.
It is believed that their culture seemed to decline somewhere about 350 A D. From about 200 BC to 300 AD, the Albany Hopewell constructed over 96 burial mounds at this site. It was, and still is, one of the largest mound groups in the nation. It is the largest Hopewell culture mound group in Illinois. The Albany Hopewell built their mounds on the bluff tops above the village and on the terraces adjacent to the village.
Today about 50 of the mounds remain, thirty-nine of the mounds remain in good condition, while eight have been partially destroyed through erosion, excavation, or cultivation. Other mounds were totally destroyed by agricultural activities, by railroad and highway construction, site looter, and still, others were destroyed in the process of being scientifically excavated in the early 1900s by the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.