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Digital archives present new opportunities for transparency, context and accessibility by digitizing and publishing limitedly accessible collections of archival documents and artifacts. Due to the destructive nature of archaeological inquiry these datasets are the only remaining materials from which archaeologists can make interpretations about past human behavior. The objective of this thesis was to be a case study for the usability of legacy data from Hopewell Mound Group by examining newly accessible data sources through the Ohio Hopewell digital archive (hopewell.unl.edu). The resulting databases for the burial data and artifacts of Hopewell Mound Group’s Mound 23 are a combination of the Field Museum of Natural History artifact catalog, archival field notes, published manuscripts, unpublished manuscripts, excavation reports, and plan maps. In addition, contemporary data sources such as Case and Carr’s (2005: Appendix 6.1) HOPEBIOARCH database and geophysical data from Hopewell Culture National Historic Park were also used in this study. Through the examination of the archival data in conjunction with museum artifact catalogs and contemporary data I was able to glean new details and interpretations of Mound 23 at Hopewell Mound Group. Details regarding burial numbering, burial preparation, and artifact associations which were previously unintelligible from the published data are presented for future study. The databases were also situated within a GIS environment to provide a new level of analysis for comparing burial deposits within Mound 23. Lastly, the materials recovered and compiled through this investigation of Mound 23 were compared to previous mortuary analyses of Hopewell Mound Group’s Mound 25 by Greber and Ruhl (1989) and Case and Carr (2005). Overall, based upon a set of measures outlined by Case and Carr (2005), Mound 23 possessed few individuals of potentially high social status and based upon Case and Carr’s (2005) suite of features demonstrated ceremonial society membership or achieved status. Future analyses should examine the ethnographic record in relation to patterns of mortuary deposits at Hopewell Mound Group. Moreover, more reliable dating of the deposits of mounds 23 and 25 should be undertaken to better elucidate their relationship to one another and expand the analytical capabilities of future research.
Advisor: Carolyn Heitman