This past week the Archaeological Conservancy received awards from Ohio State Historic Preservation Office (The Ohio History Connection) and the Ohio Archaeological Council for the preservation of Junction Earthworks. Our Midwest Regional Director Paul Gardner was there to accept the awards on behalf on the Archaeological Conservancy. The Ohio State Historic Preservation bestowed the Award of Merit in Preservation. The award of Merit in Preservation is given for preserving Ohio’s prehistory, history, architecture, or culture. It was given to the large consortium of preservation groups that worked together to accomplish this daunting project. The Awardee consortium is composed of Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, The Archeological Conservancy, Heartland Earthworks Conservancy, Rivers Unlimited and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, who together succeeded in the acquisition and preservation of the Junction Group Earthworks in Ross County. The consortium was aided by the support of additional groups including the Friends of Serpent Mound, the Ohio Archaeological Council, the Newark Earthworks Center, the Archaeological Society of Ohio, and the South Central Ohio Preservation Society (SCOPS).
The New Junction Earthworks Archaeological Park and Nature Preserve will be opened to the public in as early as spring of 2015. Donors to this project, of which there were almost a 1000, had their first preview of the park this past weekend. Back in March, the land sale was learned about only 2 weeks before the auction was to take place, yet in an amazing feat of leg work, organizing, fundraising and will power by the consortium in that time over 375,000 dollars of pledges were raised toward the project. A Clean Ohio grant was secured for another large portion of the monies needed for the land sale. Nearly 1.1 million dollars was needed for the land alone. The consortium was able to purchase three tracts of land, securing the earthworks, 100 acres of woodlands, and 1¼ miles of Paint Creek’s forested corridor—193 acres in all. The earthworks site portion will be owned and managed by The Archaeological Conservancy.
The Junction Group archaeological site, likely belonging to the Hopewell culture, sits on the
“terrace overlooking Paint Creek just southwest of the town of Chillicothe. The site was built approximately 1800-2000 years ago. It belongs to a select class of earthwork sites consisting of numerous small geometric enclosures and is perhaps the best preserved of these sites. When it was first mapped in the 1840s by Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis, the site was thought to consist of nine ditch-and-embankment enclosures, including four circles, three partial circles, and two squares with rounded corners. […]Four mounds are also present, with three in among the enclosures and the fourth to the west along the terrace edge overlooking Paint Creek. Squier and Davis conducted excavations in one of the mounds, uncovering several burials, plentiful charcoal, and an “altar”–what was likely a prepared clay basin used for ceremonially burning special objects and perhaps cremating the dead. Like most earthwork sites in Ohio, the Junction Group was a ceremonial center. […]
In 2005 Dr. N’omi Greber (Cleveland Museum of Natural History), Dr. Wesley Bernardini (University of Redlands), and Dr. Jarrod Burks (Heartland Earthworks Conservancy) set out to see what was left of the site using geophysical survey. […] Though the site has been thoroughly plowed and the earthworks are now quite hard to see at the surface, the magnetic survey was a resounding success. Not only was the site remarkably visible in the magnetic data, but the team was caught off guard by a pleasant surprise–the site contains a very unique earthwork shape not documented before in Ohio, a quatrefoil!”
Additional monies are still needed to complete the vision for a public archaeological and nature park. The total project budget is $1.8 million, includes line items for to make the public park a reality such as additional land acquisition; land stewardship and restoration; visitor parking and hiking trails, and a Junction endowment fund to sustain operations. All consortium members are still accepting donations to give this project a secure funding for the future.