Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pinellas Point Temple Mound - St. Petersburg, Florida

Surrounded by housing developments and modern streets, the Pinellas Point Temple Mound in St. Petersburg is a remarkable archaeological site.

Built during the Mississippian era (A.D. 900 - A.D. 1500) by Indians known to the Spanish as the Tocobaga, the large mound rises on the south shore of the St. Petersburg Peninsula and overlooks Tampa Bay. The mound was likely occupied at the time of the Spanish arrival in the Tampa Bay area during the 1500s and may have been the ceremonial center of one of the villages noted by the chroniclers of the Panfilo de Narvaez and Hernando de Soto expeditions.

In fact, local tradition holds that the Pinellas Point Mound was the site where Princess Hirrihigua saved the life of Juan Ortiz, a member of an expedition sent to Tampa Bay in search of the missing Narvaez by his worried wife. Captured by warriors, Ortiz was on the verge of execution when the daughter of a chief intervened on his behalf. Some scholars believe the story may have been the actual foundation for the later account of Pocahontas saving the life of Captain John Smith in Virginia.

Regardless of the accuracy of the legend, the Pinellas Point Temple Mound is an important relic of the days when the site of modern St. Petersburg was the center of an important Native American chiefdom.

To learn more about the mound and to see additional photos, please visit

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