TOP TEN PLACES TO EXPERIENCE OHIO’S ANCIENT AMERICAN INDIAN LEGACY

The following list presents the OHS Archaeology staff’s views on the top ten places to experience the legacy of Ohio’s ancient American Indians. Most of the sites are earthworks built by the Hopewell culture (100 BC – AD 400), but that’s just a reflection of the profusion of architectural wonders built by these ancient people here in Ohio. If you have your own ideas for other sites deserving of recognition you are welcome to add them in a comment.

Fort Ancient Earthworks
1. Fort Ancient Earthworks, Lebanon. Fort Ancient is the largest hilltop enclosure in North America. It is being considered for listing as a World Heritage site as part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination. In addition, there are wonderful exhibits in the museum that span the entire Native American experience in Ohio.
2. Serpent Mound, Peebles. Serpent Mound is the largest effigy mound in the world! The best evidence suggests it was built around AD 1000 by the Fort Ancient culture. It is being considered for listing as a World Heritage site.

Serpent Mound
3. Newark Earthworks, Newark. The Great Circle Earthworks and Octagon Earthworks are magnificent remnants of the largest complex of geometric earthworks in the world. It is being considered for listing as a World Heritage site as part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination.
4. SunWatch Village, Dayton. A Fort Ancient culture village, partially excavated with several of the houses restored on their original foundations. The name comes from the gigantic cedar pole at the heart of the village that turned the entire site into a gigantic sundial. There also is a fine museum at the site.
5. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park – Mound City Group, Chillicothe. Mound City is the largest collection of Hopewell culture burial mounds in eastern North America. A museum on the site provides an introduction to the Hopewell culture. It is being considered for listing as a World Heritage site as part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks nomination.
6. Fort Hill Earthworks, Hillsboro. Fort Hill is a nearly pristine hilltop enclosure of the Hopewell culture that also is a National Natural Landmark.
7. Miamisburg Mound, Miamisburg. The largest Adena culture burial mound in Ohio.
Miamisburg Mound
8. Flint Ridge, Glenford. Flint Ridge preserves hundreds of flint quarry pits used by all of Ohio’s ancient American Indian cultures, but most especially by the Hopewell. A museum at the site has exhibits on the archaeology and geology of Flint Ridge.
9. Marietta Earthworks, Marietta. The preserved remnants of the Hopewellian Marietta Earthworks include the finest examples of Hopewell platform mounds.
10. Ohio History Center, Columbus. The finest display of artifacts from all of Ohio’s ancient American Indian cultures as well as a mounted mastodon!
For more information on these ten sites as well as many more check out the website for the Ancient Ohio Trail!
Note: The links on this page have been updated as of 7-29-2014.
Brad Lepper

12 thoughts on “TOP TEN PLACES TO EXPERIENCE OHIO’S ANCIENT AMERICAN INDIAN LEGACY

  1. Ah, I’m glad I didn’t have to rank these — darn near impossible. And I need to get to both Fort Hill & Spruce Hill (the latter newly added to Hopewell Culture National Historic Park thanks to the Arc of Appalachia). Hard to leave out Seip, but given the amount of reconstruction there — and the Hopewell Site itself is a wonder and a marvel, but only with good background and interpretation if you’ve never been there before.

    Good post!

  2. As a person who was born and spent most of my life in North Eastern Oho, and a person of Native American ancestry, I do believe that Ohio can and should do a lot more about educating Ohioans, and everyone else, about the wonderful history that is held within this state’s boundaries. Were it not for the wonderful books of Allan W. Eckert, I would not know even half of the Native American history and cultures that once thrived in Ohio. What is more, there is numerous places where important historical Native American events took places that are either poorly marked, or not marked at all. Come on, OHIO! Get with it!

  3. My favorite spot is Shawnee Lookout Park at the farthest corner of southwest Ohio. On a trail in the back of the park, it overlooks the Ohio River and you are near Kentucky and also Indiana.

  4. abbylommel —

    There are different ideas about Fort Hill, but the generally accepted interpretation is that it should be classified as a hilltop enclosure — not an effigy mound and not a burial mound. If you compare it to Fort Ancient (hilltop enclosure), Serpent Mound (effigy mound), and the Miaimisburg Mound (burial mound) you can come to your own conclusion!

    1. Hi Shannon,

      Any of these sites would be great for a Cub Scout troop. The Fort Ancient Earthworks and museum in Lebanon might be the closest. Jack Blosser, the site manager, has worked a lot with scouts and Fort Ancient has had a record number of Eagle Scout projects.

  5. Hi Brad. Like the site. Just want to let you know that the Indians are still here in steubenville Ohio. I have a few photos dealing with Indian’s . actually ghost photos . I was asking for logun . and I was snapping photos and in a few SHOTTS there were things associated with Indians . very clear photos. Must see photos . also of people that died there in the mill . also have voices of the ghost there. And I see you are interested in Indian facts. They came to me for a reason now its time to let the Indian ccommunity know the lost Indians are still here in Ohio. Thank you for your time. Hope to speak soon. A fan . Dale.

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