Ohio is rich with evidence of the ancient American Indian legacy. The stories that our archeological finds tell only give us a glimpse into the past—but even just a glimpse into the lives of those who lived centuries before us can be truly fascinating. The following are 10 archeological sites you need to explore in Ohio if you haven’t already.
1) Great Serpent Mound (Peebles)
The largest (and most strangely shaped) effigy mound in the world can be found right here in Ohio in Adams County. The 1,348 feet long uniquely shaped mound depicts a snake, with an oval shape at its head. Although no artifacts or written records were found near the mound to determine who built it, a nearby village site shows evidence of occupation by both the Adena and the later Fort Ancient Cultures. The original purpose of the mound remains a mystery, though there is some evidence for astronomical correlations, according to arcofappalachia.org.
2) Fort Ancient Earthworks (Lebanon)
The largest hilltop enclosure in North America can be found in Warren County, above the banks of the Little Miami River. This 126-acre plateau is enclosed by embankment walls that stand about 5 to 23 feet high, which were constructed by the Hopewell Indians by repeatedly dumping baskets of soil on top of one another. Although the exact purpose of the embankment is unknown, archeologists speculate that it was built for ceremonial purposes rather than as a fortress. Today, several research projects still continue ever since remote sensing lead to the discovery of a circular arrangement of posts beneath the ground (commonly known as the Moorhead Circle) in 2005, according to fortancient.org.
3) Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Chillicothe)
Mounds abound at Mound City Group in Ross County where you will find the largest collection of Hopewell culture burial mounds in eastern North America, as well as a museum that showcases the Hopewell culture.
4) Newark Earthworks
The largest and most complex set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world were built by the Hopewell between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D., and remnants of these massive earthworks still exist today. In spite of the growth of the city of Newark, three major segments of earthworks are preserved; the Great Circle Earthworks, the Octagon Earthworks and the Wright Earthworks.
5) SunWatch Village (Dayton)
This partially excavated Fort Ancient culture village in Dayton features several restored houses on their original foundations. The massive cedar pole at the center of the village, serving as a sundial, gives the village its name. Visitors can also explore an onsite museum.
6) Fort Hill Earthworks (Hillsboro)
Both a Hilltop and Circle Earthwork can be found in Hillsboro. These earthworks were also built by the Hopewell, and can only be seen by hiking the Fort Hill Trail and Buckeye Trail.
7) Marietta Earthworks
This Hopewell ceremonial center is located at the junction of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers in Washington County. Three segments of the Marietta Earthworks are preserved today.
8) Flint Ridge (Glenford)
Also known as the “Great Indian Quarry of Ohio," these eight miles of quarry pits and high-quilaity flint were used by all of Ohio’s ancient American Indian cultures at one point or another. There is also an onsite museum for visitors to explore and learn more about the archeology and geology of Flint Ridge.
9) Miamisburg Mound
The Miaimisburg Mound is the largest Adena culture burial mound in Ohio and one of the two largest conical mounds in eastern North America. It is 65 feet tall and 800 feet in circumference, and contains 54,000 cubic yards of earth, according to ohiohistory.org.
10) Ohio History Center (Columbus)
Although this center isn't built on an ancient earthwork or any other sort of archeological site, it does feature an array of artifacts from all of Ohio’s ancient American Indian cultures--not to mention a mounted mastodon.
Which of these sites and/or museums are your favorite? Share your experiences and photos with us in the comments below!