5b.1 Hopewell Earthworks In Ohio
These maps show the Hopewell earthworks in the valleys of the Scioto River and Paint Creek in Ross County and the Great Miami River in Butler and Hamilton Counties. These areas are also shown on the map of Ohio on the opposite wall. Why these sites were grouped in this manner is the subject of much current research.
This map or "plate" is one of many from Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848) by Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis that describe Hopewell works as they existed during the first half of the 19th century.
Image Number: SquierDavisPlateIII
5b.1b Newark Earthworks
The Newark Earthworks, spread over more than 4 square miles, was the largest enclosure built by the Hopewell culture.
The maps were originally drawn in the 1840s. Unfortunately, since that time, many of these enclosures have been destroyed by urban development.
Image Number: SquierDavisPlateXXV
5b.2 Seip Earthworks Complex
The Seip Earthworks complex is one of several Hopewell earthworks in the Paint Creek valley of Ross County. Why the Hopewell culture chose this valley for some of its earthworks, and presumably its villages, is the subject of much current research. Perhaps one factor was the rich supply of food provided by the five major forest zones in the region.
Image Number: SquierDavisPlateXXIno2
5b.3 Seip Earthworks Complex
The Seip complex consists of a square enclosing 27 acres, an irregular circle surrounding 77 acres, and a second circle enclosing 18 acres. Major parts of the walls, plus a small circle and several mounds, are no longer visible because of erosion and plowing. Recent studies suggest that the walls were 50 feet wide at the base and at least 10 feet high. Just beyond the northern wall of the large circle are several pits which were formed as the ancient people dug the dirt to make the walls. Within the large circle are three connected mounds. They range in size from 120 feet across and 20 feet high to 40 feet across and 6 feet high. The oval mound in the center of the complex is one of the largest Hopewell mounds known. It is 250 feet long, 150 feet wide, and 30 feet high.
Catalog Number:P 54
Image Number: AL01020
5b.4 Excavation of Seip Earthworks
The three connected mounds were excavated between 1906 and 1908. The large oval one was investigated between 1925 and 1928 and then was rebuilt to its original dimensions. All four mounds covered burials and the sites of charnel houses, special buildings for funerals. Nearly all of the deceased had been cremated. Their remains were placed in individual tombs on the charnel house floors and covered with low mounds of earth. After the charnel houses served their function, they were taken apart and more earth was mounded over the tombs and the house floors. Archaeologists do not know if all four houses were used at the same time or if they were built one after another.
Catalog Number: AV 17
Image Number: AL02740
5b.5 Research at Seip Earthworks
Studies at the Seip Earthworks complex since the 1970s have focused on areas between the large oval mound and the earthworks. This work was designed to learn more about events that took place at this site other than burial rituals. Archaeologists are also using several types of electronic devices to relocate walls that are no longer visible.
Catalog Number: A 0957/000008.002
Image Number: AL07285
5b.6 Seip Earthworks Objects
The objects displayed here were found in the large Seip mound. They include an effigy pipe made from steatite, a trumpeter swan effigy cut from tortoise shell, copper objects, textiles, a human head effigy made from clay, a large flint spear point, and a flint knife.
The large oval mound and a small restored section of the earthworks are the focal points of a state park that is open year-round.
Catalog Number: A 0957/000123
Image Number: AL07297
5b.7 Activities At A Hopewell Earthworks Complex
A Hopewell earthworks complex such as Seip (pronounced "Sipe") was no doubt the setting for many activities. Understanding what took place on these sites requires much research, since they are large and were used over long periods of time. The most recent studies at Seip have been directed toward that goal. The findings of that research are the basis for this model.
Catalog Number: E 509
Image Number: AL05220
5b.8 Constructing the Earthworks
Building an earthworks complex required a great deal of planning and organizing by Hopewell leaders. In addition, much muscle power was needed to do the actual work. Some earthworks may have been built to face the rising of the sun or moon at certain times of the year. Even though the circles, squares, and octagons enclose large areas, they could have been laid out using simple tools. A complex such as Seip may have been designed all at one time. However, it was probably built over a period of years. Certain sites may have been the "property" of particular Hopewell clans or other kinship-based groups. Helping build the earth walls may have given the people a sense of unity and a feeling of belonging to a large group.
Image Number: SquierDavisPlateXXI
Trading was important to the Hopewell culture of the Ohio Valley. Many raw materials and finished goods were brought into the area from distant places. In addition to Lake Superior copper and marine shells, there was obsidian from the Rocky Mountains, mica and steatite from the southern Appalachians, flint from North Dakota and Indiana, quartz from Arkansas, galena and pearls from the Mississippi Valley, and silver from Canada.
Ohio pipestone and Flint Ridge flint may have been exchanged for these materials, but only small quantities of these Ohio materials are found outside of Ohio. Finished objects also may have been traded. Pottery vessels and stone pipes made in the south were traded to Ohio. Copper earspools and cutout designs fashioned in Ohio were exchanged elsewhere.
Catalog Number: A 0957/000310
Image Number: AL07305
5b.10 Trade Networks
Some archaeologists think that the Hopewell had complicated networks through which these goods were traded. The bulk of the evidence does not support that theory. Nevertheless, the Ohio area, especially the Scioto River valley, likely was a major trading locale because 1) it was close to the sources of many materials; 2) the people there had a strong trading tradition; and 3) the social organization of the Hopewell culture was relatively complex.
It also is possible that trade is not the only explanation for the large quantities of exotic materials and artifacts coming into Ohio at this time. The great Hopewell earthworks may have been pilgrimage centers where people brought offerings of rare materials or beautifully-crafted artifacts.
Catalog Number: A 0283/000362 B
Image Number: AL07226
5b.11 Craft Specialists
Hopewell craftspeople were highly skilled. They made decorated pottery, sculptured effigy pipes, and complex copper ornaments. Some of them may have been specialists. They spent most of their time perfecting their crafts, while other people provided for them. During recent excavations at the Seip Earthworks complex, archaeologists found sites that may have been craft workshops. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the buildings were in use between A.D. 200 and 300. Two of those workshops are shown as bark-covered structures in this model.
There is no direct evidence of copper working at Seip. Still, the number of copper objects found in the mounds suggests that it was an important activity. The craftsmen pounded the ore into flat plates, heating the metal now and then to keep it from becoming too brittle. Copper pounded over wooden forms could be made into headdresses. Rectangular plates could be cut and drilled with flint tools to make breastplates.
Catalog Number: A 3490/000001
Image Number: AL02847
5b.12 Funeral Processions
Funerals, especially for persons with high social status, were major events at most Hopewell earthwork complexes. In this drawing, the procession is a group of mourners carrying the body of a kinswoman to the charnel house for burial. The body is covered with a finely woven cloth painted with designs. The mourners have arranged their hair in special styles. Many have painted their bodies. Some carry objects that belonged to the woman. These objects will be buried with her as a sign of her social position.
A shaman, wearing the bear skin robe that confirms his connections with the spirit world, will preside at the ceremony. One man blows a bone whistle, perhaps to accompany chanting. The figures, their clothing, body paint, and accessories are based on objects found in Hopewell sites in Ohio and Illinois.
Inside the charnel house, the body of the deceased will rest in a log tomb. After arranging more logs across the top of the tomb, the attendants will cover it with a low mound of earth.
Image Number: MPOpg39_HopewellFuneral
5b.13 Daily Life
Some archaeologists believe that the Hopewell people lived year around at their earthwork complexes. Others think that only small groups resided at each site all of the time. The rest of the people lived in villages scattered through the river valleys. They traveled to the earthworks only at certain times of the year.
Excavations at the Seip Earthworks have unearthed middens (household refuse dumps) near the walls. However, much more work is required to determine whether the refuse is from long-term or periodic occupation.
The people needed shelter and food regardless of how long they lived at a complex. The large river valleys of southern Ohio, where most of the earthworks were built, were rich in natural resources. The shelters in which they lived may have varied from temporary lean-tos to more substantial houses.
The Hopewell women grew crops of seed-bearing plants. They also collected wild plants and nuts. The men provided meat from animals and fish. It is likely that, while the men were building the earthworks, the women prepared the meals, made everyday pottery, and continually collected firewood.
Collection Number: P 54
Image Number: AL01019
5b.14 Seip Mound
When Ohio Historical Society archaeologists excavated the large Seip mound from 1925 to 1928, they found the remains of a complex charnel house. This model is a floor plan of that house. The arrangement of the post holes and the graves suggests that there were 3 distinct compartments (shown by the shadings on the model). Recent radiocarbon dates suggest the house was in use between A.D. 290 and 370.
The remains of 112 persons and numerous objects had been placed on earth platforms surrounded with logs on the floor. The Hopewell people had laid more logs over each burial and covered the entire tomb with a low mound of earth. The remains of 106 men, women, and children had been cremated. The cremations were probably done in the 5 crematory basins (the red-orange depressions on the model) within the house. The remaining 6 persons (4 adults and 2 children) had been laid to rest on a large platform. They were accompanied by numerous artifacts and pearls. The log tomb enclosing this group was covered with a woven fabric held in place with bone pins and then with a mound of earth.
Image Number: FOCase53
5b.15 Seip Earthworks Objects
The Hopewell people deposited a variety of objects in a large depression on the house floor. Included in this deposit were objects made from obsidian, steatite, quartz, and marine shells, as well as locally made pottery and flint tools. Later, 3 burial platforms were built over the depression. The people also placed at least 12 copper breastplates, each wrapped in a woven mat, and a copper celt weighing 28 pounds on a nearby earth platform.
Catalog Number: A 0957/002145
5b.16 Abandonment of Seip Earthworks
Eventually, the occupants of the Seip complex decided to abandon the large charnel house. They dismantled it and covered each of the 3 compartments with a mound of earth, depositing objects and even a few more burials along with the soil. Finally, they covered the mounds with a layer of gravel (the inner ring of pebbles on the model). They later capped the 3 mounds with more soil, forming one mound. Around the base of this outer mound, the people built a low wall of large stone slabs (the outer row of pebbles). Spreading a layer of gravel over the entire mound was the last step.
Recently, archaeologists from Northwestern University and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History reexamined materials from Seip mound. They concluded that each of the 3 building compartments was the burial area for a particular social group. They also concluded that copper earspools, breastplates, and pearls were special symbols of social status among the Hopewell people using the Seip Earthworks complex.
Collection Number: P 54
Image Number: AL01020
5b.17 The Hopewell Mound Group
The Hopewell culture is named for the Hopewell Mound Group. The site is located on the North Fork of Paint Creek west of Chillicothe, Ohio. It is a rectangular area of 115 acres enclosed by earth walls 6 feet high and 35 feet wide at the base. These walls lie along the edge of the terrace above the creek, then turn and run up the bluff where they follow the contour of the higher land. East of the large enclosure, a square with sides 850 feet long surrounding 16 acres once existed. Small mounds stood just inside openings in the middle of each wall.
Within the large earthwork, there once was a round enclosure 350 feet across and a D-shaped enclosure 2000 feet around. The smaller earthworks, along with some of the mounds, have been destroyed by erosion, farming, and construction.
Image Number: FOCase54
5b.18 Studying the Hopewell Mound Group
The Hopewell site, especially the 29 mounds within the large enclosure, has been the subject of several major archaeological studies. The first was during the 1840s and another, by the Ohio Historical Society, was between 1922 and 1925. Beginning in 1998, archaeologists with the National Park Service have conducted a number of investigations at the site.
Remote sensing surveys have identified several circular post hole patterns in the northeast corner of the enclosure, which may mark the sites of dwellings or ceremonial structures. In addition, these methods also revealed a large circular feature that may be the remnants of a previously unrecorded earthwork.
The mounds covered the sites of charnel houses containing burials, some of which were cremated, in log tombs. Elaborate artifacts had been placed with some burials. In other cases objects were arranged in large deposits on the mound floors. The most complex structure, mound 25 (within the D-shaped enclosure), was 3 connected mounds that totaled 500 feet in length. The post holes found beneath mound 25 suggest that, like the Seip mound, it covered the site of a complex public building used for a variety of events including burials.
5b.19 Hopewell Mound Artifacts
The artifacts displayed here show the variety of materials available to the Hopewell people and the skills of their artisans: oversized knives made from honey-colored Knife River (North Dakota) flint and black obsidian; platform pipes including an effigy form made of steatite; bear canine teeth with pearl insets; various copper ornaments; a green chlorite pendant; effigies of a bird claw; and a human hand cut from sheets of mica.
Catalog Number: A 0283/000292.002
Image Number: AL07218
5b.20 Fort Ancient Earthworks
The Fort Ancient Earthworks is located on a mesa above the Little Miami River near Lebanon, Ohio. It is an example of a class of Hopewell sites known as hilltop enclosures. For many years, these sites were thought to have been built for defense. However, their large size and the many openings in the walls argue against their being used for military purposes.
Fort Ancient includes mounds, crescent-shaped earthworks, stone circles and pavements, and a pair of parallel walls. Similarities between Fort Ancient and other Hopewell earthworks suggest that the site was built for social and ceremonial purposes. Artifacts found there clearly identify the site as Hopewell. Unfortunately, the name of the site has been given to a later culture of Native Americans, the Fort Ancient people. Some Fort Ancient people did indeed live at the site but not until 1000 years after it had been built by the Hopewell culture.
The nearly 3-1/2 miles of earthworks are made of soil and rocks. However, studies by archaeologists from the University of Florida suggest that the 3 major parts of the site were not built at the same time. There are at least 72 openings in the walls. Many of them provide easy access to the valley below. Within Fort Ancient are 3 "Great Gateways" that are major passages from one part of the enclosure to another. These gateways are flanked by mounds or stone pavements.
Near the parallel walls northeast of the enclosure, archaeologists from the Ohio Historical Society found remnants of Hopewell living sites including pottery and flint bladelets. In the same area, a local resident discovered a cache of over 100 sheets of cut mica, several broken stone ornaments, and numerous copper objects. Many of them had been bent and broken on purpose. Several of the artifacts from that cache are displayed here. Another cache found recently includes knives made from obsidian, quartz, and Indiana flint.
In 2005, archaeologists using remote sensing technology discovered evidence of a large circular structure nearly 200 feet in diameter. This may be the remnants of a previously unrecorded earthwork or a circular pattern of post holes of a "woodhenge." The archaeologists also found evidence of possible houses, pits and other ancient activities.
Because of its significance, Fort Ancient was purchased by the state of Ohio in 1891 and became Ohio's first state park; it is presently administered by the Ohio Historical Society.
Image Number: SquierDavisPlateVII
5b.21 ATER MOUND
The Ater mound was located southeast of Frankfort, Ohio, near the North Fork of Paint Creek. It may have been built by the same Hopewell group that constructed the Frankfort Earthworks. The Ater mound was excavated by the Ohio Historical Society in 1948 after part of it was destroyed by a construction project. The entire mound was estimated to have been 120 feet long, 77 feet wide, and 6 feet high.
The archaeologists found that the burials covered by the mound had not been placed in a charnel house such as those at the Seip mound or at the Hopewell Group. In this case, the Hopewell culture enclosed a space shaped like a figure 8 with a wooden fence erected in a gravel-filled ditch. There is no evidence that the structure had a roof. Within the fenced area, 61 persons were buried, 54 of whom were cremated. Studies of the burials and the objects found with them suggest that these people were all part of one social group. Some of the people, especially elderly men, seemed to have had higher status than the rest.
A unique artifact from the Ater mound is a "blanket" of shell beads that covered the burial of a young child. Over 1500 beads had been strung with fiber thread into diamond patterns and then attached to a loosely woven fabric. Fortunately, enough remnants of that fabric were preserved on the copper breastplate found with the child to provide a pattern for the modern replica displayed here. Detailed records, made during the excavation, of the position of each bead allowed the pattern to be re-created. A few of the most delicate beads have been reproduced
After the undamaged portion of Ater mound had been excavated, the landowner constructed a building on the site.
Image Number: FOCase56
5b.22 Harness Mound
The Harness mound was a large, oval mound within one of the circular enclosures of the Liberty Earthworks complex, which lies in the Scioto River valley southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio. The complex consists of 3 circles and a square. The largest circle encloses 40 acres and the square surrounds 27 acres. Squares and circles may have had special meaning to the Hopewell culture since many of its earthworks combined those shapes in various ways. In the 1840s, the walls of the Liberty Earthworks were 4 feet high. Today, they are no longer visible due to farming and construction.
Image Number: FOCase57
5b.23 Excavation of Harness Mound
The Harness mound was 160 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 20 feet high. It was excavated to varying degrees in the 1840s, the 1850s, 1885, 1897, 1903, and 1905. Most of the objects displayed here are from the last two excavations, done by the Ohio Historical Society. The early excavators noted that the mound covered the foundations of a building that contained the burials of 174 persons, all but 10 of whom had been cremated.
In 1976 and 1977, archaeologists from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History examined the base of the mound before it was leveled for farming. The complete pattern of the building was found during that study. It, too, combined squares and circles. Some archaeologists believe that each compartment of the building was used for a variety of social events by different groups of the people who maintained the Liberty Earthworks.
Modern excavation methods and analytical techniques provide details of the house construction. The Hopewell builders had scraped away the topsoil and replaced it with layers of clay to form the floor. Most of the posts were hickory saplings; some of them may have been decorated with red paint to mark entrances or special areas within a room.
Radiocarbon dates on charcoal from pits within the building suggest that it was being used between A.D. 265 and 395.
Collection Number: AV 17
Image Number: AL00284
5b.24 Tremper Mound
The Tremper mound is about 5 miles north of Portsmouth, Ohio, on a bluff above the west edge of the Scioto River. Early maps of the mound show it enclosed by an elliptical earthwork measuring 480 feet by 407 feet. When the Tremper mound was excavated by Ohio Historical Society archaeologists in 1915, it was 250 feet long, 120 feet wide, and about 5 feet high.
Beneath the mound, remnants of a large charnel house were found. The complex pattern of compartments in the house gave the mound its odd shape. The Hopewell culture probably built additions to the charnel house over the years.
Unlike the Hopewell groups in Ross County, those using the charnel house at Tremper did not bury their dead in single graves or log tombs. On the contrary, about 375 persons were cremated in the 12 crematory basins. The remains were interred in 4 burial depositories. A fifth depository was empty at the time of the excavation. Two people were buried in graves beneath the floor of the charnel house.
Image Number: FOCase58
5b.25 Tremper Mound Artifacts
Archaeologists found a cache of over 500 artifacts on the floor of one of the compartments near the east end of the mound. Among the objects were stone pipes, beads, mica and galena (lead ore) crystals, earspools, cut animal jaws, stone ornaments, "boatstones," copper rattles, and fragments of woven fabric.
The most spectacular of these artifacts were the animal effigy pipes which are in the next slide. Nearly all of the objects had been broken on purpose. In contrast, the Hopewell people placed a second cache of intact pipes and other objects in the mound as they were building it over the remnants of their charnel house.
Catalog Number: A 125/000134.001
Image Number: AL07162
5b.26 The Tremper Pipes
The most spectacular artifacts from the Tremper mound are the stone pipes. Nine were in a cache left in the mound itself. A large cache on the floor of the building covered by the mound held 136 others. Of this number, 60 are carved in the effigies of animals. The rest are of the plain platform type.
All the pipes in the cache had been broken. However, 106 have been restored. Except for one made from limestone, all of the pipes have been carved from pipestone. For a long time, archaeologists assumed that the pipestone came from quarries in the hills east of the Scioto River. Recent research using sophisticated analyses suggests that the pipestone, and perhaps the completed pipes, came from Illinois.
Image Number: FOCase59
5b.28 Mound City Effigy Pipes
5b.28 Mound City Effigy Pipes
The only other known cache of Hopewell effigy pipes was found beneath mound 8 at Mound City near Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1846. Those pipes had also been broken and placed in a cache in the house floor. Animal species such as hawks, cranes, and wildcats are represented in both groups.
Perhaps the caches were the work of one or two master craftsmen at each site who were communicating with each other. The Mound City cache, along with other artifacts found at that site, is now in the British Museum, London, England.
Image Number: FOCase60
5b.29 Hopewell Mica Artifacts
Mica, or isinglass, as it is also called, is a glass-like mineral that occurs in thin, somewhat flexible layers. The Hopewell culture obtained mica from western North Carolina. With their flint knives and bladelets, artisans made circular or oval "mirrors" from thick slabs of the mineral. They also cut a variety of forms from thinner sheets.
The forms are often recognizable; for example, human torsos, spear points, bear canine teeth, an animal silhouette, perhaps a bear, and a bird's claw. However, the meanings of these forms, especially of the headless human torsos, are not known.
All of the artifacts in this display were found at the Hopewell Mound Group except the "bear," which is from the Tremper mound.
Image Number: FOCase61
5b.30 Uses of Mica Artifacts
Archaeologists are not certain how mica artifacts were used. Some may have been sewn to clothing. Small pieces of mica were attached to a copper headdress found at the Hopewell Mound Group. It is equally possible that mica artifacts were attached to structures such as the door posts of public buildings.
In mound 13 at Mound City near Chillicothe, investigators found a grave measuring 7 feet square covered with sheets of mica, some measuring 16 by 14 inches. In mound 7 of the same site, archaeologists found a crescent-shaped arrangement of mica nearly 20 feet long and up to 5 feet wide.
Catalog Number: A 0283/000242 B
Image Number: AL07216
5b.31 Hopewell Obsidian Artifacts
Obsidian, or volcanic glass, is a fine material for making sharp knives and spear points. Yet the artisans of the Hopewell culture clearly were not making hunting tools when they fashioned giant points up to 17 inches long and 6 inches wide from this mineral.
The fact that obsidian is an "exotic" substance suggests that even normal-sized points and knives made of this material were for special events. The spear points may have been used as symbols in rituals to improve the skill and luck of hunters.
The obsidian objects displayed here are from the Hopewell Mound Group and the Seip mound.
Image Number: FOCase62
5b.32 Obsidian Objects
The obsidian used by the Hopewell culture came from at least two sources: the Yellowstone region of Wyoming and Bear Gulch in Utah. The small number of Hopewell obsidian objects suggests that little of the material was brought to the Ohio Valley. Most of what was imported came to the Hopewell Mound Group in Ross County. From there it was traded throughout the Midwest as unworked chunks or finished pieces.
A cache of nearly 150 obsidian blades and points found in Mound 25 of the Hopewell Mound Group, as well as nearly 300 pounds of fragments and chips beneath Mound 11, show the importance of that site in obsidian trade.
Image Number: obsidian deposit
5b.33 Hopewell Copper Artifacts
The Hopewell culture obtained copper from the same sources in the Lake Superior region that had been used for 1000 years by earlier Archaic and Early Woodland cultures. The number of copper artifacts found indicates that the metal was quite important to the Hopewell culture (a single cache in the Hopewell mound held 120 pieces).
Many copper objects were probably used as ornaments, parts of special costumes, and emblems of social position. Some objects, earspools for example, were made in Ohio and traded to Indians in other areas. Others, such as x-shaped (reel) gorgets, made by groups in the Tennessee River valley, were "imported" into this area.
The items displayed include a large breastplate from Ater mound; a double frog effigy breastplate with fabric remnants from Rutledge mound (Licking County); a reel-shaped gorget from Hazlett mound (Licking County); axes from Harness mound (small specimen with fabric imprints) and Seip mound (large specimen); and a small earspool and cone-shaped object (possibly a rattle) from Tremper mound. The curved headdress, the panpipe, awl, bracelet, and interesting human effigy are from the Hopewell Mound Group.
Image Number: FOCase63
5b.34 Copper Celts
Hopewell people may have played the panpipe and used the copper awl, yet few if any of the copper axes or celts show signs of wear. Indeed, the 28-pound ax from Seip mound would be difficult to use for chopping wood. Often, axes were wrapped in cloth, perhaps to be displayed on special occasions. Remnants of the cloth are sometimes preserved by the copper.
Catalog Number: A 0007/000005.004
Image Number: AL07078
5b.35 The Wray Figurine
The Wray Figurine, named for a former owner, was found in 1881 by workmen digging a foundation for a building in Newark, Ohio. It is made from a solid piece of rock that weighs about 1Â½ pounds. The figure appears to be a man or woman wearing a bear skin complete with the animal's head, which the figure appears to be raising or lowering with its left hand. Bear claws cover the human fingers and toes, perhaps to make the person's transformation to bear-spirit more convincing.
In the figure's lap is what appears to be a human head with the hair flowing down between the figure's legs. The "head" is sculpted in low relief, so it also might represent a decorated bag, or even a supernatural being such as the Floating Head of Iroquois legend.
Since both the figure and the disembodied head wear Hopewell-style earspools, the sculpture is thought to be Hopewell. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the piece was beneath the largest of the burial mounds at the Newark Earthworks, a major Hopewell complex in Licking County. Archaeologists think that the figurine represents a Hopewell shaman, identified by the ceremonial regalia. The shaman may be performing a funeral or conducting some other ceremony. Because so little is known about the circumstances under which the piece was found, a more detailed interpretation is not possible.
Catalog Number: A 3874/000001
Image Number: AL02848
5b.36 Wray Figurine Interpretation
Historic Native Americans are known to have used bearskins to impersonate bear spirits in shamanic rituals. Nicholas Creswell observed such a shaman among the Delaware Indians at Coshocton in 1775. In his journal he recorded the experience:
"Saw an Indian Conjuror dressed in a Coat of a Bearskin with a Visor mask made of wood, frightful enough to scare the Devil."
The Hopewell culture sometimes made small human figures from clay. The most notable of these have been found at the Turner mound in Hamilton County, Ohio, the Mann site in Indiana, and the Knight mound group in Illinois. Three human-head effigy pipes were found with the cache beneath mound 8 at Mound City. These human figures provide important information about Hopewell clothing, hairstyles, and body painting/tattooing, areas of Hopewell culture which often are not preserved.
Catalog Number: E 509
Image Number: AL05220
5b.37 Hopewell Trade
The native peoples could have collected pearls from freshwater mussels in Ohio rivers, although historic records suggest that the Mississippi and Illinois rivers produced larger amounts. The pearl trade appears to have been especially strong between Ohio and Illinois.
One group of Hopewell people in Hamilton County, Ohio, collected and then disposed of 48,000 pearls in an artifact deposit that was later covered by the Turner mound. Archaeologists excavating the Hopewell site in the 1880s found 100,000 pearls. Some were inset into bear canine-tooth buttons or applied to copper ornaments. Most had been drilled, perhaps with a hot copper wire, and strung as necklaces or sewn onto clothing.
Catalog Number: A 0283/000530
5b.38 Hopewell "Exotic" Artifacts
In addition to the "classic" imported materials â€“ copper, mica, and obsidian â€“ the Hopewell culture obtained other exotic goods from sources in the upper Mississippi Valley and the southern Appalachians. Steatite (soapstone) mined in the South may have been imported in the raw form.
The Copena culture in Alabama made massive animal effigy pipes of steatite, which they exchanged with the Hopewell culture, especially the groups living at the Seip Earthworks. Five such pipes, depicting two dogs, a bear, an owl, and a whippoorwill, were laid in the large Seip mound as it was being built. Four of them are displayed here. Other steatite pieces from Seip are the engraved "marbles," the small cup, and the bird-effigy boatstones depicting an owl, turkey vulture, and duck.
Image Number: FOCase65
5b.39 Galena and Chlorite Objects
The Hopewell culture traded for galena (lead sulfate) from sources mainly along the Mississippi River in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The shiny crystals would likely have been attractive talismans or charms. Ground to a fine powder and mixed with grease, galena made a silvery white paint. Archaeologists found nearly 150 pounds of galena in mounds at Mound City near Chillicothe. The piece displayed is from the Tremper mound.
Chlorite's green color and mica-like inclusions were probably as attractive to Hopewell artisans as they are to us today. The source of this material is not known. The pendant displayed here is from the Hopewell Mound Group.
Catalog Number: A 0283/000121.002
Image Number: AL07254
5b.40 Hopewell Pottery
The Hopewell culture produced well-made pottery from local clays. Hopewell potters, probably women, fashioned everyday jars and bowls that were either smooth on the outside or roughened with a cord-wrapped stick. Other vessels were decorated in various ways. Some Hopewell vessels have flat bases, while others stand on four "feet.''
Archaeologists have found pottery fragments in pits beneath Hopewell mounds, in caches placed in mounds, and in a very few instances, with burials. The quality of this pottery, especially the decorated ware, suggests that some of it was made for social or ceremonial events.
Some special-purpose Hopewell pottery is thin and plain. More often, incised lines divide the pots' surfaces into "zones" which are sometimes decorated with stamped designs. Stylized birds appear on some pots. Although the birds are abstract, those with the curving bills may depict hawks while those with the wider bills may be ducks. Especially distinctive decorations are the cross-hatched lines and indentations around the rim of some pots.
The pottery in this display is from the Hopewell Mound Group, Mound City, the Seip mound, and the Harness mound, all in Ross County, and from the Turner mound in Hamilton County.
Image Number: FOCase66
5b.41 Hopewell Pottery
In Ohio, the decorated Hopewell pottery does not seem to have evolved from earlier Adena ceramics. In central Illinois, however, pottery-making habits of the Havana culture, which lived at the same time as the Ohio Hopewell, do seem to have come from preceding cultures. Perhaps, then, the decorative styles spread from the Illinois River valley east to Ohio. The abstract bird designs may also have been passed from one group to another. They seem to occur first among the Marksville Indians of the lower Mississippi Valley and the Havana culture of Illinois beginning around 150 B.C.
Hopewell potters used many kinds of tools as stamps to decorate their pots. A comb-like object made the fine indentations on the Hopewell zoned stamped pot from Illinois. A sharp-edged piece of clam shell rocked back and forth across a pot can make the distinctive rocker stamped design. By cutting notches in the clam shell, the potters could make the dentate (tooth-like) rocker stamping shown on the large fragment from the Seip mound.
Pots with other types of stamped decorations were imported by the Hopewell people from groups living in Tennessee and Georgia. The distinctive designs on these vessels were made with carved wooden paddles like the replicas shown in the display. Sometimes the patterns are simple parallel lines or a checker-board motif such as the example from the Harness mound. The fragments from the Seip mound are good examples of the more complex designs known as complicated stamping.
Image Number: FOCase67
5b.42 Hopewell In Northern Ohio
Most Ohio Hopewell sites are in the central and southern part of the state. There are, however, a few in northern Ohio near Lake Erie. Although the people living at these sites had contacts with their cousins to the south, they had much in common with groups in their own region, especially southern Michigan and New York. The Esch mounds, along the Huron River in Erie County, provide the prime examples of northern Ohio Hopewell culture.
Image Number: FOCase68
5b.43 Excavation of Esch Mounds
The Esch mounds were excavated in 1930. Many of the objects from the two burial mounds show their southern orientation: Flint Ridge flint bladelets, platform pipes made from black steatite and Ohio pipestone, and rocker-stamped and cord-marked pots. The silver covering the copper ornaments came from Ontario. The sandstone elbow pipe is unusual for Ohio Hopewell sites, though similar pipes have been found in New York.
Catalog Number: A 1176/000062.002
Image Number: AL07326
5b.44 Esch Mound Effigy Pipe
The effigy pipe is a unique variation of the elbow style made from Ohio pipestone. It may represent an alligator, a frog, or some mythological creature. The fragments of plain pottery are similar to types made in Michigan. A radiocarbon date shows that the Esch site was occupied around A.D. 590.
Other Middle Woodland groups lived in the region between Sandusky and Maumee bays while the Hopewell people were at Esch and in southern Ohio. Why these two groups did not interact to any great extent is a topic of much current research
Catalog Number: A 1176/000129
Image Number: AL00263
5b.45 Hopewell Daily Life
Recent research shows that the people of the Hopewell culture supported themselves by hunting and fishing; collecting wild plants, especially nuts; and raising seed crops such as knotweed, goosefoot, little barley, and maygrass. They may also have grown some corn, but it was not a staple crop. Excavation at one Illinois site produced tobacco seeds.
Some archaeologists believe that the Ohio Hopewell people lived year-round at their earthwork complexes. Indeed, living sites do exist at Hopewell, Seip, and Fort Ancient, and at Miami Fort (Twin Mounds village) in Hamilton County. Other archaeologists think that the Indians lived in small villages in the river valleys and traveled to the earthworks only at certain times of the year.
This belief is supported by the McGraw site near the Scioto River south of Chillicothe and the Murphy site between Newark and Granville in Licking County. Neither of these living sites is directly linked with an earthwork complex. Both of them have yielded McGraw Cord-marked and Plain pottery along with the expected animal bones, plant remains, flint chips, and broken tools. The size and composition of Hopewell living sites may have varied in different river valleys of southern Ohio; more research is needed in this area.