Pre-Columbian, Archaeological Sites in Ohio

Humans have lived in Ohio for at least 15,000 years. These peoples have left their mark on Ohio with numerous earthworks, petroglyphs, and artifacts including tools, weapons, and jewelry. Archeologists have identified several distinct ancient cultures that flourished in Ohio.

  • Adena Culture: 1000 BC – 200 BC. They built at least 200 burial mounds across the state.
  • Hopewell Culture: 200 BC to 500 AD. Centered around Chillicothe, OH, the Hopewell had a massive trading empire than ran from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and west beyond the Mississippi river. They built huge earthworks, grew crops, and made elaborate art objects.
  • Fort Ancient People: 1000 AD to 1750 AD. The Fort Ancient people descended from the Hopewells, built Serpent Mound (but not Fort Ancient – now believed to date back to the Hopewells). They farmed, produced pottery and flint tools.

Below I’ve listed some of the major pre-Columbian archaeological sites in Ohio. Several feature museums – in particular, the museums at Fort Ancient and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park have extensive exhibits and collections of artifacts. The best collection of pre-Columbian Ohio artifacts is located in Columbus at the Ohio History Center.

Alligator Mound – Licking County
A 200 foot long effigy mound in Granville, OH. Named after its interpretation by European settlers, it was probably intended to represent an opossum or panther. The mound was built between 800 and 1200 years ago by the Fort Ancient people.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Flint Ridge – Licking County
Flint Ridge is the site of ancient Native American flint quarries. Native Americans mined flint at this site and made extensive use of it for tools and weapons. The site features a museum and 1.5 miles of trails.
Museum: Yes   Admission Fee: Yes

Fort Ancient – Warren County
Fort Ancient features a massive hill top earthworks built by ancient Native Americans, a 9,000 square foot archaeological museum, and 2.5 miles of hiking trails.
Museum: Yes   Admission Fee: Yes

Fort Hill – Highland County
Fort Hill is a huge earthwork resembling a fort surrounding 40 acres of forested hill top in Highland County. The site features many miles of scenic hiking trails.
Museum: Yes   Admission Fee: Yes (museum)

High Banks Metropark – Delaware County
Highbanks contains two Adena mounds as well as earthworks (near the Olentangy River overlook) created by the Cole culture (descended from the Hopewell) built between 800 AD and 1300 AD.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park – Ross County
This site contains Mound City – a large set of earthen mounds created by the Hopewell Culture and a museum with interpretive materials and a collection of Hopewell artifacts.
Museum: Yes   Admission Fee: No

Inscription Rock – Erie County
Inscription Rock is an ancient Native American petroglyph (image carved in stone) located on Kelley’s Island.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Leo Petroglyph State Memorial – Jackson County
Leo Petroglyphs is a site with 37 petroglyphs believed to be 700 years old. The site features a picnic shelter and hiking trails through an adjacent gorge.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Miamisburg Mound – Montgomery County
The largest Native American (Adena) mound in Ohio stands in a park on a hill top overlooking the Miami river.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Newark Earthworks – Licking County
The Newark Earthworks are the largest geometric earthworks in the world. These earthworks were built by the Hopewell people 2,000 years ago. They were not built as burial mounds, their purpose is still subject to speculation.
Museum: Yes   Admission Fee: No

Seip Mound – Ross County
This mound was once part of a larger complex of earthworks. Part of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, it is located about 16 miles from the main site.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Serpent Mound – Adams County
Serpent Mound contains a 1,348 foot long snake effigy constructed by Native Americans on the rim of an ancient meteor crater. The placement of the effigy is astronomically significant. The site features annual events to mark the summer and winter solstice.
Museum: Yes   Admission Fee: Yes

Shrum Mound – Franklin County
A 20 foot high conical burial mound built by the Adena culture.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Story Mound – Ross County
An Adena burial mound in Chillicothe.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Sunwatch – Montgomery County
Site of a Fort Ancient village contains recreation of original village.
Museum: Yes   Admission Fee: Yes

Voss Site – Franklin County
A Native American burial mound built by the Fort Ancient people. It is located in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
Museum: No   Admission Fee: No

Additional Information

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2019

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

Complete the following sentence by typing either real or spam:
My comment is ...