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The old approach to the mound consisted of this dirt path winding through the trees. A newly laid sidewalk makes getting to the mound steps much easier. The area on top of the mound affords a tree top view of the surrounding area. Old trees draped with Spanish moss grow on what was once a ceremonial or temple mound built by Florida's first inhabitants.
Madira Bickel Mound State Archeological Site
A winding, tree-shaded path and stairs lead to the top of Madira Bickel Mound.

History and Culture

The 10-acre site that encompasses Madira Bickel Mound was named after Mrs. Madira Bickel of Sarasota, who joined her husband Karl, in preserving Native American mounds from destruction. In 1948, the Bickels purchased and donated the mound and surrounding land to the state, which was the first site in Florida to become a state archaeological site. Archaeological excavations have disclosed at least three periods of Native American culture. During the first period, in which mounds were begun, life was simple. The primary interests were hunting and fishing. Kitchen middens along the shore of the bay were probably begun during this period. The second, or Weedon Island Period, extended from A.D. 700 to A.D. 1300. This period produced some of the most artistic pottery found in Florida. During the third, or Safety Harbor Period, interest in pottery declined. Villages became larger, as agriculture rose in importance. This is also the period in which the first Spanish explorers arrived.

Artifacts like these found at Madira Bickel Mound, help depict the people who once lived here.

Artifacts

Madira Bickel Mound is a temple or ceremonial mound built by the American Indians that inhabited Florida hundreds of years ago. The mound is composed of sand, shell and village debris. Pottery sherds and other artifacts found in locations like this one help archaeologists learn more about who lived here, when they lived here and how they structured their daily lives.

The dedication ceremony for Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site is captured in this 1950s photo.

Dedication

Karl and Madira Bickel gave the property on which the mound stands to the state of Florida in 1948. Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site has the distinction of being the first such location in Florida to be designated a state archaeological site.

Old, gravel-filled stairs lead up to the mound.

Old Stairs

When the old stairs were in need of replacement, one of the volunteers offered to build a new set.

A wheelbarrow full of shell waits to be added to the new stairs.

Shell

The new stair frames were filled with shell.

The new stairs, complete with handrails, beckon explorers to the mound.

New Stairs

Brand new stairs, filled with shell and complete with handrail, make the climb up the mound much easier.