The Hopewell Culture
5b. THE HOPEWELL CULTURE
The culture known to archaeologists as the Hopewell may be the most widely discussed but least understood ancient culture in Ohio, if not the entire eastern United States. Over the past 160 years, the Hopewell culture has been described as a non-Indian "super race" of Moundbuilders, as migrants from Mexico, and as a small group of dominant priests. Recent research reveals much variation in Hopewell artifacts and sites. This has caused some archaeologists to view Hopewell as a religious cult that spread among different groups. Finally, there is the idea that Hopewell was a trading system in which exotic raw materials and food supplies were exchanged among growing populations.
Regardless of the precise nature of the Hopewell culture, it existed in Ohio from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 500. The major Hopewell sites are geometric and hilltop enclosures along with burial mounds. For the most part, these sites are found in the river valleys of central and southern Ohio. Other groups in the Ohio Valley and eastern North America had contact with Ohio Hopewell, but they did not often build earthworks.