One of the most important archaeological sites in Illinois, Albany Mounds contains evidence of continuous human occupation over the last 10,000 years. The Albany Mounds date from the Middle Woodland (Hopewell) period (200BCE-CE300), older than either the Cahokia or Dickson Mounds of the Mississippian period.
While still obtaining food largely through hunting and gathering, Woodland peoples began practicing basic horticulture of native plants. Woodland peoples are distinguished from earlier inhabitants by the development of pottery and the building of raised mounds near large villages for death and burial ceremonies.
The only Middle Woodland site owned by the state, Albany Mounds originally was made up of ninety-six burial mounds. At least thirty-nine of the mounds remain in good condition, while eight have been partially destroyed through erosion, excavation, or cultivation. Burial artifacts include non-local materials, indicating the existence of trading networks with Native Americans from other areas. The site of the nearby village remains privately owned. The mounds were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
In the 1990s the site was “restored” to a natural appearance and a prairie of about one hundred acres established. The site also contains a parking lot and picnic shelter, walking trails, and interpretive signs along a bike trail. The Friends of the Albany Indian Mounds Foundation is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the site.