The Midwestern office recently finished up an exciting tour of archaeological sites in Ohio. We started the Moundbuilders Tour, 2015 in Columbus with an introductory presentation by Dr. Jarrod Burks. He educated us about the important prehistoric sites we would travel to and set the stage for our visits to very impressive earthworks.
Our first stop on the tour was a trip to Sunwatch Indian Village, a partially reconstructed Fort Ancient village near Dayton, Ohio. Here we got to experience what day to day life was like for the native people that inhabited the area 800 years ago. We saw what their houses and gardens looked like and learned how the village was laid out and organized. Then we made our way to the Miamisburg Mound, which is the second largest Adena burial mound in the United States. At 65 feet tall, the view of the valley below was very impressive from the top.
We finished the first day by visiting the Fort Ancient State Memorial. This is a massive hilltop enclosure with 2 miles of earthen walls and multiple mounds that was built by the Hopewell 2000 years ago.
We began day 2 with a visit to Fort Salem, a beautiful earthwork that was preserved by The Conservancy in 2005, and then headed to Serpent Mound, the largest snake effigy mound in the world. Climbing to the top of the viewing platform at Serpent Mound really gives you a great view of the site and shows you just how massive this earthwork is. Our final stop of the day took us to Hopewell Culture National Park which consists of a few different sites around Chillicothe. The Mound City Group at the Park is a totally reconstructed complex that contains 23 mounds enclosed within a 13 acre walled area. We went behind the scenes to look at the collection and curation facility at Hopewell Culture National Park. There we got to see many of the impressive artifacts that have been recovered from the sites including decorative copper figures, effigy pipes, shells, and projectile points.
Newark Earthworks, in Ohio, boasts the largest earthen enclosures in the world and we concluded the tour with a trip to the Great Circle and the Octagon Earthworks. This geometric complex was built by the Hopewell between 250 AD to 500 AD and is very well preserved as a state park. Experts in the field of archaeology and earthworks met us along the way. Each helped answer the many questions we all had about the awe inspiring sites we visited. We learned a lot during our tour but also realized that there are still many unanswered questions about why native people constructed these massive earthworks and what their use of them was over 2000 years ago.
Report from Josh McConaughy, Associate Director, Midwest Regional Office