Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
WPA crew in front of platform mound


Site ID: 15Bt2, 15Bt20

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​​​​​​The University of Kentucky excavated the Annis site during the Great Depression from February 1939 until April 1940 as part of the WPA program. Pennsylvania State University returned to the site during the summers of 2002-2004 to carry out additional research. These investigations documented three concentric palisades, 17 structures and associated features, and a platform mound.  The palisades show successive enlargements of the village over time, but only the outer, most recent palisade had a bastion. The palisade enclosed a village area of 4.5 acres. The platform mound measured 110 feet on a side and was 12 feet tall.  The village and platform mound date from the early to mid-1300s AD.​

Artist's reconstruction of the Annis site.


​With the establishment of a community in the floodplain of the Green River, a local leader emerged who had enough influence to convince others to build a low platform mound and a substantial, if small, palisade.  His residence was on top o​​f the mound.

In time, use of the mound shifted - to a non-domestic, presumably ritual, purpose.  Residents built a large public structure enclosed by a fence on top of the mound and a second, larger palisade around their expanding village. At that time, archaeologists think that the chief lived in a structure located close to the mound. 

During the final phase of the community's growth, the mound was significantly enlarged and again served as the chief's residence. This may have been an attempt by a new, perhaps unrelated, leader to exert influence and legitimize his position by symbolically recapping the mound. The significantly enlarged palisade, with its bastions, suggests that residents were experiencing ​some level of local social stress, or that the chief was attempting to illustrate his power, or both. 

A section of the palisade exposed by WPA workers.

What's Cool?

​Building a Mound and Palisade

Using experimental studies, archaeologists estimated how long it could have taken to construct the different mound stages, and build and expand the palisade at Annis. To estimate the labor costs of mound building, they considered several factors: the time needed to excavate the soil, the time required to transport it, and the volume of each mound stage. Given a five-hour day and 50 workers, researchers estimated that it could have taken as many as 5.5 days to build the initial mound stage and 23 days to build the final stage.

To estimate the costs of palisade construction, researchers considered the total person-days needed for tree cutting and transport, trench excavation, and setting the posts.  Again, given a five-hour workday and a 50-person workforce, they estimated that it could have taken as many as 14 days to build the smallest palisade and 33 days to build the largest palisade. 

Chert hoe replica used in Pennsylvania State University's earth digging field experiments.

Related Materials

Keep the Search Alive!