National Park Service


Date of this Version



Hopewell Archeology: The Newsletter of Hopewell Archeology in the Ohio River Valley Volume 4, Number 2, May 2001


1. The Hopeton Earthworks: An Interim Report

For anyone with an interest in North American archeology, Ross County, Ohio, has long been a special place. The combination of a great concentration of mounds and earthworks, along with a long history of intensive archeological research, has fascinated archeologists and the general public for more than a century. Through the efforts of legendary archeologists such as E.G. Squier and E.H. Davis, Warren King Moorehead, and William C. Mills, certain sites in Ross County have become very well known.

Recognition resulting from research at these sites has sometimes led to their being intentionally preserved. Many other potentially significant sites have been lost to agriculture or development activities without ever receiving any significant archeological attention. This presentation will describe research at a site that received very little scientific archeological attention prior to its acquisition by the National Park Service in 1990.

2. Meeting Calendar

2001 Midwest Archaeological Conference October 12–14, 2001, Radisson Hotel and Holiday Inn, La Crosse, Wisconsin

2001 Plains Anthropology Conference October 31 – November 3, 2001, Holiday Inn Lincoln, Nebraska

3. Land Acquisitions Status At Hopewell Culture NHP

In May 1992, President George Bush signed Public Law 102-294 creating Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (NHP) in Ross County, Ohio. This legislation authorized the purchase of properties that would allow the new park to expand its boundaries beyond those of the existing Mound City Group National Monument. Until this time, the monument consisted of the Mound City Group and portions of the Hopeton Works, which were in danger of being destroyed by a gravel operation.

Since the 1992 legislation, a primary management objective at Hopewell Culture NHP has been land acquisition at Hopewell Mound Group, High Bank Works, Seip Earthworks, and Hopeton Works. The process of building the park has been slow and blocked by many legal hurdles.

4. Book Review: Mysteries of the Hopewell: Astronomers, Geometers, and Magicians of the Eastern Woodlands.

Many archeologists consider the work of E.G. Squier and E.H. Davis to be the first scientific archeological investigation in the United States. Whether we agree with that or not, it is interesting to note that Squier and Davis were attracted to study the same mound and earthwork sites that today are the core of Ohio Hopewell. Exploration of Hopewell mounds produced substantial evidence that the mounds and earthworks were associated with highly developed mortuary rituals and artistic objects of material culture. For about a century, the Hopewell mortuary complex was the primary focus of research in this area. In the last forty years, researchers have turned their attention to a broader understanding of Hopewell culture.

Archeoastronomy became a part of North American archeology following Warren Wittry’s discovery of a series of woodhenges at Cahokia, near East St. Louis, Illinois, in the early 1960s. Wittry demonstrated that these wooden features were solar observatories. This discovery, and subsequent discoveries throughout North America, have led archeologists to believe that symbols in the art, artifacts, and architecture of prehistoric North America are a reflection of the worldviews of their creators.

References Cited

5. News and Announcements

Dean K. Alexander to Assume Top Post at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

The National Park Service has selected Dean K. Alexander, Superintendent at Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Hawaii, as the next superintendent of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park near Chillicothe, Ohio. Alexander replaces John Neal, who transferred to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Bayfield, Wisconsin, in June.