Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center is located 2.5 miles east and 4.5 miles north of Spiro, Oklahoma on paved roads. Take Sh-9 east of Spiro to the Lock & Dam Road.
Spiro Mounds is a state archaeological site run by the Oklahoma Historical Society and open to the public. It is located in Eastern Oklahoma, near the modern town of Spiro. It is one of the most important pre-Columbian sites in the United States.National Register of Historic Places
Spiro is the western-most outpost of the Mississippian culture that spread along the lower Mississippi drainage area and its tributaries. Like other Mississippian sites, it is composed of a number of large ceremonial mounds. The site was inhabited between about 850 and 1450 AD. It was the residence of powerful leaders who directed the building of twelve platform mounds and burial mounds over a 150 acre area.
Spiro is part of what archaeologists call the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. The heart of Spiro is an oval plaza area formed by a grouping of nine mounds. Here the inhabitants carried out complex rituals, focused especially on the deaths and burials of great leaders. They made elaborate ritual objects for use in their ceremonies, often from exotic materials.
Craig Mound, one of the largest at Spiro and the only burial mound, was looted by artifact hunters in the 1930s. A small part of the mound had a cavity which allowed for almost perfect preservation of fragile artifacts like lace, fabrics, copper and conch shell. It appears to have begun as a burial chamber for an ancient ruler that was covered over with earth but never collapsed. Some of the artifacts looted at that time have been recovered and are among the finest examples of pre-Columbian art in North America.
Spiro was part of a vast Mississippian trading network that brought obsidian from Mexico, colored flint from New Mexico, copper from the Great Lakes, mica from the Carolinas, and conch shells from the Gulf Coast. The engravings of humans, animals, and geometric designs on the conch shells at Spiro are particularly well rendered and undoubtedly had profound symbolic significance. Spiro's ceremonial objects are some of the most sophisticated artforms ever found in the Mississippian region.
The Spiro people appear to have been speakers of one of the many Caddoan languages.