Kincaid Mounds was the political center of the first people to practice large-scale agriculture in far southern Illinois between 900-550 years ago, located in the Black Bottom in Pope and Massac counties. Over a thousand people may have lived in the mound center and in the surrounding hamlets and farmsteads that were part of its social system. Kincaid covers 175 acres enclosed by a log palisade. A series of large flat-top mounds served as the foundations for public buildings, temples, and the residences of leaders.
Builders constructed the mounds using basket loads of soil and clay over a period of 350 years. Thirty-foot tall mounds surround a plaza area used for both social and political activities, including the chunkey game. Many archaeological methods developed during the excavation of Kincaid from 1934 to 1944 by the University of Chicago became foundational to modern archaeological practice. Southern Illinois University continues research at Kincaid. Among the artifacts discovered by SIU are an owl effigy carved from stone and a human head effigy carved from yellow fluorite.