May 25, 2012

Kincaid Mounds vandalized

Native Burial Mounds Vandalized in Southern Illinois in Possible Attempt to Steal ‘Grave Goods’The Evansville Courier & Press is reporting that the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Massac County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the recent looting and ATV or truck damage at Kincaid Mounds. The mounds are a series of prehistoric American Indian burial mounds in rural Pope and Massac counties.

Small holes were dug into one of the burial mounds by one or more people looking for what are known as ‘grave goods,’ items that were buried along with the dead. The mounds consist of 105 acres that have been designated a National Historic Landmark and the site is on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. They are believed to be between 1000 and 700 years old. Kincaid Mounds consist of nine mounds, which include burial mounds and large platform mounds, and portions of a village site. The area represents the earliest part of Southern Illinois to develop intensive, large scale agriculture.

“The criminal disturbance of these human burials in Kincaid Mounds is unconscionable,” Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Director Amy Martin said to the Courier & Press. “We hope to apprehend those who are responsible, which will serve as a deterrent to others who may be considering the desecration of our state’s heritage.”

Authorities are not sure whether any artifacts or human remains were removed. This is not the first time Kincaid Mounds have been targeted—vandals struck in 2008.

There is also evidence that someone drove a four-wheeler or a truck over one of the mounds. All-terrain vehicles are prohibited at the Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site.

If caught, those responsible can face up to three years in prison and fines more than $100,000. Anyone with information on the Kincaid Mounds looting or four wheeler damage is asked to call the Massac County Sheriff’s Department at 618-524-2912 or the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency at 217-558-8973.
Comment:  Usually the punishment for these isn't enough, but three years and $100,000 isn't bad. But I'd make that the minimum rather than the maximum. We need to start penalizing people until it hurts badly enough to deter future destruction.

For more on archaeological looting, see "Digger" Shows Promote Archaeological Looting and Looters Don't Go to Jail.

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