Adena Mounds

5a.16 Adena Mounds

Adena Mounds

The Adena culture built cone-shaped earthen burial mounds throughout southern Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. For the most part, the mounds were built as lone monuments on terraces or high bluffs above river valleys. However, in the Hocking River valley in Athens County, Ohio, and the Kanawaha River valley near Charleston, West Virginia, the Adena clustered a number of mounds and circular earthworks. The size of the mounds varies greatly. The Auvergne mound in Kentucky was 30 feet across and 3 feet high when it was excavated. The largest Adena mound is the Grave Creek mound, near Moundsville, West Virginia. It stands 70 feet high and is 317 feet across. The Miamisburg mound near Dayton, Ohio, is a close second at 68 feet high and 270 feet across.

The Adena also built circular earthen enclosures. Often, the walls had a ditch along the inside. Excavations at Mt. Horeb, a circular enclosure in Kentucky, showed that wooden posts had been erected along the inside of the walls. Precisely what was built – perhaps a fence around an area 90 feet across – is not clear. Groups of Adena people may have gathered within these enclosures for public events. At times, smaller earthen walls, sometimes with ditches, were built around the bases of conical mounds. The Conus mound, in Marietta, Ohio, is a case in point.

Catalog Number: H 53136
Image Number: AL02905