Brian Lazzaro is a curious man, and when he first heard about the earthen mound located in his home town of Park Ridge, Illinois, he was curious why it was there.
Illinois is the second flattest state in the US, and as the town’s name suggests, any elevation at all generates interest. The unassuming mound in a local backyard had to have a reason behind its existence.
Lazzaro is a history buff and an amateur archaeologist, but he was smart enough to know that a professional archaeologist was needed to prevent damage to the site. University of Illinois archaeologist Kevin McGowan was called in to supervise the dig.
And dig they did. Near the surface, artifacts appeared. A bit of coal, probably left over from heating a nearby house. A penny, a political button, some broken pottery… and then stone flakes.
Stone flakes are indicative of Native American activity. Larger rocks were hammered down into spear and arrow heads, and the hard flakes stayed pretty much where they landed. Could this be a burial mound?
That’s a common thought when a mound is found in Illinois. Illinois is home to Cahokia, an impressively large mound city near St. Louis. Mounds here tend to be manmade, and those men could very well have been Native Americans.
Or, they could be landscapers. The core of the mound was determined to be filled with soil, and nothing else. The current theory is that the mounds were built to enhance the landscaping in this well-to-do Chicago suburb.
Lazzaro’s curiosity had uncovered an abandoned raised flowerbed.
The stone flakes are so common that they’re indicative of very little. Native Americans had been hunting in this area for thousands of years.
But here’s where things get interesting. Lazaro wasn’t disappointed: he was satisfied. HIs curiosity had paid off, even if it wasn’t in the direction he was anticipating. And while the mound no longer holds the mystery it once did, it provides insight into other mysteries that will present themselves in the future.
Curiosity is most often described as an emotion, but it can also be a behavior. And our hat, or pith helmet, is off to him and the others who helped solve this mystery.
Source: Chicago Tribune – Dig unearths truth behind Park Ridge ‘burial mound’