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.
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.
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.
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.