Ohio History Journal

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Curator of Archaeology,

Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society


This prehistoric culture named by William C. Mills from the

Hopewell mound group in Ross County, closely followed Adena in

time; and like the Adena people, the Hopewell people lived along

the principal streams emptying into the Ohio River Valley. Sites

and centers of occupation of the Hopewell people are located, in

the main, along or in the valleys of the Scioto, Little and Great

Miamis, and Muskingum rivers and their tributaries. Most of the

sites are over the entire southern part of the state; there are, how-

ever, three known sites in the north and northeastern sections.

Outside of Ohio, occupation centers and sites of this group are

found in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois,

Wisconsin, and as far west as Kansas. Remains of related Hope-

wellian people, or "cousins," also are found in the southeastern

United States.

The Hopewell people, commonly referred to as the "Mound-

builders," constructed large and impressive geometric earthworks

and hilltop enclosures. Geometric earthworks in the form of circles,

squares, rectangles, and octagons are situated on the flat river

bottoms and enclose from a few acres to over several hundred acres

of land. The walls of the earthworks, often broken by openings,

vary from two or three feet to ten or more feet in height, and up

to twenty feet in width at the base. At the typical Hopewellian site

geometric forms are found arranged in combinations, that is, circles

and squares connected by short or long parallel walls. Located

within and often scattered around the enclosures are small subconical

to large ovate-shaped burial mounds.

The Turner Group, just northeast of Cincinnati, and the Newark,

Seip, Mound City, Marietta, and Hopewell earthworks are a few

of the important sites of this kind in the Ohio area.

Earth and stone walls following the natural contours of the edge