These two, large outcroppings are across the creek from Gorge Trail
Two thousand years ago, the Hopewell people built a massive earthwork enclosing a 40-acre hilltop in southwest Ohio. This earthwork which resembles a fort was later dubbed Fort Hill.
It’s believed that this figure of a shaman holding a decapitated head was created in 100 A.D. It’s known as the Shaman of Newark
because it was found at the Newark Earthworks
When looking at the prehistoric artefacts and earthen structures in Ohio, I’m always wondering what meanings these things held for the people who created them. I end up reading whatever explanatory sign is posted nearby, but while I’m doing so I’m also wondering how anthropologists know any of this stuff. Since prehistoric societies don’t leave any texts explaining themselves or their culture, anthropologists have to be making a lot of inferences.
Path leading to the front of the mound
Seip Mound State Memorial Park is one of the five noncontiguous sites that make up the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. The other four sites are Hopeton Earthworks, Hopewell Mound Group, High Banks Works, and the Mound City Group (reviewed by us here). Native Americans belonging to the Hopewell tradition constructed this mound sometime between 100 B.C. – A.D. 400.
Entrance to Mound City
What’s known as the “Mound City Group” is part of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ross County, Ohio. This land was used for funeral rituals by a Native American civilization that flourished between 200 B.C. and 500 A.D. Mound City is approximately 13 acres in size. A low earthen wall about 3 to 4 feet high (1 to 1.3 meters) lies around the perimeter; it’s shape is that of a square with rounded corners. Perhaps the builders of the Mound City thought of the wall as a “sacred enclosure” separating the land of the departed from the land of the living.
The “Hopewell Culture” refers to a Native American civilization that was centered in Ohio. It flourished here between 200 B.C. and 500 A.D. They are renowned for having built elaborate, huge, earthen structures. However when these mounds were excavated, many artifacts of great artistry were discovered. I would like to share photos of a few of these artifacts, or in some case, replicas of these artifacts. All of them were uncovered at “Mound City” which is where the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is today. They were on display in the museum portion of the park’s visitor’s center.
A copper representation of a bird of prey
The Newark Earthworks were constructed about 2000 years ago by the prehistoric, Hopewell people. These are the largest, geometric earthworks in the world. To give you a better sense of the size and shape of these structures, it’s best to look at an aerial view. Since I can’t take aerial photos myself, I photographed some of the interpretive signs near the earthworks.
The plaque below shows the layout of the Newark Earthworks which occupy four square miles (10.6 square kilometers).
This plaque shows the layout of the Newark Earthworks.
I made a dotted trapezoid around two structures in the lower right corner of the above plaque. These two structures (an octagon and a circle) make up the Octagon Earthworks portion of the Newark Earthworks. Below is an aerial photo showing just the Octagon Earthworks.
Aerial Photo of the Octagon Earthworks
surrounded by a residential community.