Fort Ancient is a name for a Native American culture that flourished from Ca. 1000-1750 CE and predominantly inhabited land near the Ohio River valley in the areas of modern-day southern Ohio, northern Kentucky, southeastern Indiana and western West Virginia. Although a contemporary of the Mississippian Culture, they are often considered a "sister culture" and distinguished from the Mississippian Culture. Although far from agreed upon, there is evidence to suggest that the Fort Ancient Culture were not the direct descendants of the Hopewellian Culture]. It is suspected that the Fort Ancient Culture introduced maize agriculture to Ohio. The Fort Ancient Culture were most likely the builders of the Great Serpent Mound.
The name of the culture originates from the Fort Ancient, Ohio archeological site. However, the Fort Ancient Site is now thought to have been built by Ohio Hopewellian people. It was likely occupied later by the succeeding Fort Ancient culture. The site is located on a hill above the Little Miami River, close to Lebanon, Ohio. Despite its name, most archaeologists do not believe that Fort Ancient was used primarily as a fortress by either the Ohio Hopewell culture or the Fort Ancient culture; it was more likely to have been a ceremonial location.
|Early Fort Ancient||Croghan||1000 to 1200|
|Middle Fort Ancient||Manion||1200 to 1400|
|Late Fort Ancient||Gist||1400 to 1550|
|Montour||1550 to 1750|
Starting in about 1000 CE, terminal Late Woodland groups in the Middle Ohio Valley adopted maize agriculture. They began settling in small, year-round nuclear family households and settlements of no more than 40 to 50 individuals. These small scattered settlements, located along terraces that overlooked rivers and sometimes on flood plains, would be occupied for short periods before the groups moved on to new locations.
By 1200 the small villages began to coalesce into larger settlements of up to 300 people. They were occupied for longer periods, possibly up to 25 years. During the Early and Middle Fort Ancient period, the houses were designed as single-family dwellings. Later Fort Ancient buildings are larger multi-family dwellings. Settlements were rarely permanent, as the people commonly moved to a new location after one or two generations, when the natural resources surrounding the old village were exhausted. The people laid out the villages around an open oval central plaza, surrounded by circular and/or rectangular domestic structures facing the plaza. The arrangement of buildings in Fort Ancient settlements is thought to have served as a sort of solar calendar, marking the positions of the solstices and other significant dates. the people began to build low platform mounds for ceremonial purposes, and many villages added defensive palisades to their boundaries. The plaza was the center of village life: the place where ceremonies, games (such as chunkey) and other social events were held.
The Late Fort Ancient period from 1400 to 1750 is the protohistoric era in the Middle Ohio Valley. During this era, the formerly dispersed populations began to coalesce. The Gist-phase villages (1400 to 1550 CE) became much larger than during the preceding period, with populations as high as 500. Archaeologists have speculated that the larger villages and palisades are evidence that after 1450, warfare and intergroup strife increased, leading the people to consolidate their villages for better protection.
This era also showed increased contact with Mississippian peoples; some of whom may have migrated to and been integrated into Fort Ancient villages. The Madisonville horizon of artifacts after 1400 includes relatively high proportions of bowls, salt pans, triangular strap handles, colanders, negative painted pottery, notched and beaded rims, and some effigies, all items and styles that are usually associated with the Mississippian cultures of the Lower Ohio Valley, at sites such as Angel Mounds and Kincaid Mounds. These sites were abandoned during this time period.
During the Montour phase (1550 to 1700), the people inhabited their villages year-round, although less densely in the winter than in the summer months. This may indicate that during the winter, family groups and hunting parties may have returned to the regions previously occupied by their ancestors. Such a pattern was observed during historic times, for example, among the Miami and Potawatomi. By their trading, the Fort Ancient people had access to European trade items, such as glass, iron, brass, and copper, which have been found as grave goods at sites such as Lower Shawneetown and Hardin Village. Such artifacts appeared and were used in the area before the arrival of European explorers or settlers.
Although the Fort Ancient peoples did not encounter Europeans at this time, they, like other groups in the interior of the continent, may have suffered high fatalities from their diseases, transmitted among Native Americans by trade contacts. The next-known inhabitants of the area, who were encountered by French and English explorers, were the historic Shawnee tribe. Scholars believe that the Fort Ancient society, like the Mississippian cultures to the south and west, may have been severely disrupted by waves of infectious disease epidemics from the first Spanish explorers in the mid-16th century.
After 1525 at the Madisonville Site, the type site for the Madisonville Phase, dwellings were built on a smaller scale and in fewer number. This change indicated the culture was less attached to agriculture and a sedentary life. Scholars generally believe that similarities in material culture, art, mythology, and Shawnee oral history link the historic tribe to the Fort Ancient people.
The Fort Ancient culture can be divided largely into Early, Middle & Late Phases. It is not believed that they merged into a singular society until close to the end of the Middle Phase.
At this time, Fort Ancients were several, poor sedentary societies. They lived in un-palisaded villages & had slight regional variances. The locals farmed primarily corn, beans & sunflower-- the last of which being a plant first domesticated as a food source in Ohio. Most homes were of a type called a pit-house. This was a dig-in several feet into the ground, which was covered over with a bark-plaster-over-wood-frame roof. Carbon dating has shown that Fort Ancient lands in West Virginia did not begin to be conquered by them until the Middle Phase.
At this time, the cultures became far richer, began to expand & began to merge into a single, continuous culture. Villages grew larger, became palisaded & pit-houses began to be phased out in favor of the style of native dwelling colonial peoples would refer to as a Cabin-style. This was a rectangular, peak roofed home of either an adobe-like or wooden make and covered over by the same style of roof as the pit house.
It is important to note what other things were happening at the same time. Between 1100-1300 AD, the far richer & larger Mississippian Culture began shifting it's centers away from the Mississippi River and into the American Southeast. Also, Iroquoian expansions to the northeast of the Fort Ancients brought new Algonquian & Iroquoian neighbors into their region. We also see the Fort Ancients begin to borrow heavily from almost every culture with whom they interacted. Eastern Fort Ancients were amalgamating a mound burial with Iroquoian techniques of defleshing the dead & urn burials. Mississippian influence came up from the south. In western Ohio, there is even heavy evidence that they took on the Algonquian Green Corn Ceremony, in which part of the unripened corn crop was "sacrificed" by burning and it's ashes were used to re-fertilize the fields. Around 1300, however, it appears that Mound burials were replaced entirely by the Eastern Siouan tradition of under-the-home burials (This custom also entered Monongahela society).
Here, Fort Ancient culture was at its height. Only one known Fort Ancient tribe has been verified by name in the historical record-- the Mosopelea, presumably of southeast Ohio. There is also a chance that a Siouan people called the Keyauwee, who appear alongside the Tutelo (an Eastern Siouan tribe from West Virginia) in North Carolina around 1700 could also have been of Fort Ancient stock. During the French explorations, a Ho-chunk native named Tonti told them that these people had been known as the Chonque. Mosopelea language is marked as being the only known Siouan tongue to use the "f" sound, which is far more common among the Muskogean languages of the Mississippians.
Despite no historical accounts of contact existing, we see a remarkable amount of European made goods from Fort Ancient sites-- including brass and steel items, as well as glassware. They even melted down old or broken goods and reforged them into new items. No single gun part has yet been discovered in conjunction with a Fort Ancient site. The Fort Ancients were heavily affected by European disease, as well as the Beaver Wars period. Carbon dating seems to dictate that they were wiped out, not altogether, but in waves. The most recent of all surviving sites date from Northern Kentucky alone-- these being any from 1680 and on. There have been no real French accounts brought forward detailing contact, as they arrived in the region at that time, however the French did note that most of both sides of the Ohio River Valley was covered in similar styled villages in various states of destruction or abandonment.
Fort Ancient culture is divided into four distinct local variations known as foci (plural of focus). They are the Madisonville Focus, the Baum Focus, the Feurt Focus, and the Anderson Focus. Fort Ancient culture can be subdivided into at least 8 phases that fall into different time periods and different areas of southern Ohio and adjacent states. There was increasing similarity between Fort Ancient phases leading up to 1650 CE, characterized by the native artifacts and European trade goods found at the Madisonville site.
The rise in socio-political complexity evidenced by the building of substructure mounds and new village layouts may indicate influences from Middle Mississippian cultures down the Ohio River (the northeasternmost extent of Middle Mississippian was the Prather Complex in the Falls of the Ohio region 95 miles (153 km) away). The differences in ceramics show they were a culture distinct from that of the Middle Mississippian peoples. Fort Ancient settlements lacked Mississippian traits such as political centralization and elite social structures.
Although individuals might have risen to the status of leader, the Fort Ancient culture appears to have been egalitarian. For example, grave goods rarely vary between individuals, which shows that social levels were weakly defined. Scholars believe that their societies were organized into groups (maybe tribes) based on kinship. If social organization was based on kinship, people likely achieved some status by personal qualities, such as sharing/giving, being a good hunter or food provider, charisma, etc. Individuals might achieve high status by deeds. Such high-status people were probably leaders of communities and were potentially responsible for organizing trade, for settling disputes among other members of the village, and for presiding over ceremonies. Evidence indicates that Fort Ancient leadership was more like that of the historic Iroquois, where the obligations of generosity left leaders to be buried with no more than others of their age.
Fort Ancient peoples used a technique known as coiling to make their pottery. No Native American groups developed the potters wheel. Women were generally the pottery specialists. They rolled the clay into long, rounded strips, which they used to model the vessel, layering the strips one on top of another. The inside of the vessel was then smoothed out using a potters anvil (a smooth round stone) and the outside was smoothed using a wooden paddle. Cord-marking and engraving were used to decorate the pot in styles characteristic of particular time periods and peoples.
During this period, pottery was distinguished by thinner walls than preceding Woodland pottery. Common shapes are large plain cooking jars with strap or loop handles. A hallmark of Fort Ancient pottery is engraved decorations on the rim and neck of the vessels, consisting of a series of interlocking lines, called guilloché. As this design emerged with the beginning of the Fort Ancient culture in the region, scholars use it as a characteristic to identify the culture.
During the Early Fort Ancient period, grit (crushed stone) and grog (crushed pottery) were more often used as tempering agents, with ground mussel shells occasionally being used. With the passage of time, women increasingly chose mussel shells or a mixture of mussel shell with other agents as the tempering agent. The use of ground shells as a temper is a feature often associated with Mississippian cultures. This new technology was adopted in different Fort Ancient areas at different times. Its acceptance became more prevalent in villages, moving north and east from the Ohio River and the direction of the closest Mississippian groups in the southwest.
With the change of temper, different vessel forms and decorations became more prevalent; several of them are also strongly associated with Mississippian cultures. Early Fort Ancient vessels were often jug forms with lug handles. By the Middle Fort Ancient period, bowls and plates were being produced more frequently, and artisans added strap handles. Negative painting (a decoration often associated with the Angel Phase sites in the Lower Ohio Valley) and Ramey Incised designs (elite motifs associated with the Cahokia polity in Illinois) have been found on some pots. Others show a blending of different styles, for instance, with the engraved guilloché decoration overlain by negative painting. Archeological excavations have found examples of non-local pottery from this period as well. Made from non-local clay sources, the pieces have designs or vessel forms atypical for local wares. At the Madisonville Site was found a head pot similar to those produced in the Central Mississippi Valley by the peoples of the Middle Mississippian Parkin and Nodena phases. Archaeologists suggest that the change in pottery styles was a result of increased contact with the Mississippian cultures to the south and west of the Fort Ancient peoples.
The Fort Ancient peoples made tools from a variety of materials, including stone, bone, horn, shells and antlers; stone tools have been found more frequently than those of other materials. The culture is known by its distinctive small triangular flint arrowheads and large triangular flint knives. They made hoes for farming from mussel shells. They ground and polished stones into the proper shape for axes to use in felling trees. Most of the flint tools were made from varieties of locally available materials, showing the Fort Ancient peoples either felt no need for or did not have access to exotic stone varieties through trade routes.
The Fort Ancient were primarily a farming and hunting people. Their diet was composed mainly of the New World staples known as the three sisters (maize, squash, and beans), supplemented by hunting and fishing in nearby forests and rivers. Important game species included the black bear, turkey, white tail deer and elk. Archaeologists have found evidence at some sites that suggest turkeys were kept in pens. The average lifespan during this time period decreased from that of their ancestors. The people were smaller in stature and less able to fend off infectious diseases than previous peoples. Archaeological investigations of their cemeteries has shown that almost all Fort Ancients peoples showed pathology of some kind, with high incidence of dental disease and arthritis.
|Buckner Site||A Middle Fort Ancient site located in Bourbon County, Kentucky on Strodes Creek. It has two large circular village areas, each surrounding its own central plaza and several smaller special use areas to the north and northeast of the site.|
|Buffalo Indian Village Site||A site with at least two overlapping Mid to Late Fort Ancient villages (1300 to 1600) located near Buffalo, Putnam County, West Virginia along the Kanawha River.|
|Cleek-McCabe Site||A Middle Fort Ancient site located near Walton in Boone County, Kentucky with several components, including two mounds and a village.|
|Clover Site||A Late Fort Ancient Madisonville Focus site (the type site for the Clover Phase 1550 to 1600) located near Lesage in Cabell County, West Virginia.|
|Feurt Mounds and Village Site||A site with three burial mounds and an associated village, located in Scioto County, Ohio. It is the type site for the Feurt Focus.|
|Fort Ancient Site||The site is the largest prehistoric hilltop enclosure in the United States with three and one-half miles (18,000 ft) of walls in a 100-acre (0.40 km2) complex, built by the Hopewell peoples, who lived in the area from the 1st century BCE to the 6th century CE. Centuries later during the Fort Ancient period a village and cemetery were constructed within the embankments. When archaeologists excavated the site in the nineteenth century they mistakenly believed the "fort" and the village were built by the same people. It is located in Washington Township, Warren County, Ohio, along the eastern shore of the Little Miami River about seven miles (11 km) southeast of Lebanon on State Route 350.|
|Fox Farm Site||A Manion Phase site located near Mays Lick in Mason County, Kentucky. The site consists of a large village complex on a ridge 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) south of the Licking River and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of the Ohio River. The site covers 10-hectare (100,000 m2) to 16-hectare (160,000 m2) and has midden areas up to 80 centimetres (31 in) thick.|
|Hardin Village Site||A Montour Phase site located on a terrace of the Ohio River near South Shore in Greenup County, Kentucky. It was occupied from sometime in the early 1500s and abandoned by about 1625. During its occupation it covered an area of about 4.5-hectare (45,000 m2). Like other Fort Ancient villages it had a defensive palisade surrounding it, but unlike other sites it does not seem to have had a central oval plaza.|
|Hobson Site||Located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) below Middleport, Ohio on the north bank of the Ohio River. It has minor traces of Archaic, Woodland and Late Prehistoric artifacts. However, the largest component is a village of the Feurt Phase dating to 1100 to 1200 CE.|
|Leo Petroglyph||A sandstone petroglyph containing 37 images of humans and animals as well as footprints of each, located near the small village of Leo, Ohio in Jackson County, Ohio|
|Lower Shawneetown||Also known as the Bentley Site, Shannoah and Sonnontio, it is a Madisonville horizon (post 1400) archaeological site overlain by an 18th-century Shawnee village located near South Portsmouth in Greenup County, Kentucky.|
|Ronald Watson Gravel Site||A Middle Fort Ancient Anderson Focus site located near Petersburg in Boone County, Kentucky, on an inside bend of a meander of the Ohio River.|
|Sand Ridge Site||A Madisonville Focus site located along a prominent ridgeline to the west of the old Union Bridge along the road between Cincinnati and Batavia.|
|Serpent Mound||The Fort Ancient people built the largest effigy mound in the United States according to carbon dating of charcoal found underneath the mound.|
|SunWatch Indian Village||A recreated Fort Ancient village located in Dayton, Ohio. Many archaeological excavations were done here at the park which has revealed much about the Fort Ancient people.|
|State Line Site||A Middle Fort Ancient complex of sites west of Elizabethtown, Ohio on both sides of the Indiana/Ohio border, composed of five contributing properties spread out across 8-acre (32,000 m2) of land. Pottery found at the site was found to use shell tempering and had other characteristics such as distinctive styles of painting and the presence of pottery modelled after owls and the human heads, traits which signify contact with Middle Mississippian cultures.|
|Thompson Site||A Croghan Phase site located near South Portsmouth, Kentucky in Greenup County, next to the Ohio River across from the mouth of the Scioto River.|
|Turpin Site||An Early Fort Ancient Madisonville Focus site located near Newtown in Hamilton County, Ohio. The site includes the remains of a village and multiple burial mounds.|
The people of the Fort Ancient regions were surrounded by other groups, some similar in their lifestyles and some not. To their northeast in present-day Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and West Virginia were the peoples of the Monongahela culture, who inhabited the Monongahela River Valley from 1050 to 1635. They had a similar lifestyle to the Fort Ancients; they were also maize agriculturalists and lived in well laid out palisaded villages with central oval plazas, some of which consisted of as many as 50-100 structures. To the northwest of the Fort Ancients were the people of the Oliver Phase who lived along the east and west forks of the White River in central and southern Indiana from 1200 and 1450. Their villages were also circular with palisades. Although their sites began in central Indiana, over the years they spread to the southeast toward the Fort Ancients. The Oliver Phase people were part of the Western Basin Tradition which also includes the Springwells Phase, the Younge Phase, and the Riviere au Vase Phases of Northern Ohio and Indiana. The colder weather of the Little Ice Age may have caused inter-group battling over food and other resources, according to some scholars. The crops did not prosper as well during this colder period, causing food shortages for populations that had grown after their introduction. Some studies show that the culture began failing due to poor health conditions.
These groups, along with others such as the Oneota, were once classified as Upper Mississippian cultures under the assumption that they were either Mississippian peoples intruding into these areas or they were heavily influenced by the Mississippian peoples to their south and east. Today it is thought that these groups were local in situ developments of Late Woodland peoples.
Located 95 kilometres (59 mi) down the Ohio River to the southwest of the westernmost Fort Ancient settlements were the Middle Mississippian culture peoples of the Prather Complex. This stretch of river was an empty buffer zone, possibly for social or political reasons, although it may also been because the narrowing of the alluvial valley between the Falls of the Ohio region near Louisville, Kentucky and the mouth of the Miami River at Cincinnati, Ohio made it less suitable for the intensive maize agriculture practiced by both societies.
Many artifacts have been found associated with the Fort Ancients-- some of the most common being four-handled funerary urns, salamanders & snakes. Possible symbolism of the urn may be a connection to common Siouan religious beliefs. At least one artifact containing the Siouan religious symbol known as the medicine wheel (a cross inside of a circle) has been found. This stands, primarily, for the fact that all life sprung from the same place and returns to that source in the end. The four-handled urns may be to evoke that symbol, more so than having any real, practical use.
Two possibilities of the Salamander motif can also be explored. In Plains Indian culture that Salamanders represented boys and turtles represented girls. Mothers would have a special medicine pouch made for one or the other to represent their children and containing the umbilical cord, which they would wear so long as both still lived. The other possibility comes from the Eastern Siouans, who express a belief that "when a Salamander barks, someone will soon die." So, perhaps, the Salamander was a sort of death omen to the Fort Ancients, or had something to do with the door between the living and dead worlds.
The Serpent Burial Mound is another example of symbolism. This creation is made specifically to mirror a known constellation to many Siouan peoples, known as the Snake. It is depicted as swallowing an egg whole, representing the struggle against overwhelming odds for the sake of the people. Furthermore, some Siouan peoples seem to have believed that the stars seen at night were a mirror of the spirit world itself, each one representing an ancestor at peace. Therefore, you can see that this mound may have been a special place to bury those with special honors, anchors such people to the earth and their descendants and mimicking the same constellation and would have had great meaning.
The Alligator Effigy Mound is an effigy mound in Granville, Ohio, United States. The mound is believed to have been built between AD 800 and 1200 by people of the Fort Ancient culture. The mound was likely a ceremonial site, as it was not used for burials.
Located on privately owned land, Alligator Mound is one of two extant effigy mounds known in the present-day state of Ohio, along with Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971. Effigy mounds were built more often by ancient indigenous peoples located in the areas of the present-day states of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin than in the Ohio area, and many have survived there.Bone Mound II
The Bone Mound II is a Native American mound in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Ohio. Located northwest of the unincorporated community of Oregonia, the mound sits in an area of light woodland.At a height of 4 feet (1.2 m) and a diameter of 50 feet (15 m), it is believed to have been built by people of the Fort Ancient culture. Although it has never been excavated, multiple confirmed Fort Ancient sites, including mounds and two cemeteries, are located within 1 mile (1.6 km) of the Bone Mound II. The closest of these sites, a rare cemetery composed of limestone burial vaults, is only about 500 feet (150 m) away.The Fort Ancient people are known to have used burial vaults, pits, and two types of mounds for the burial of their dead. However, most areas with such a high concentration of Fort Ancient sites employ only a single method of burial. Because the area around the Bone Mound II shows evidence of multiple methods of burial, it may have been occupied by multiple foci of the Fort Ancient people; consequently, the region is very valuable archaeologically.On July 15, 1974, the Bone Mound II was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its potential to be an archaeological site. The Bone Stone Graves, the cemetery with limestone vaults, was listed on the Register on the same day.Clough Creek and Sand Ridge Archaeological District
The Clough Creek and Sand Ridge Archaeological District is a historic district composed of two archaeological sites in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Ohio. Its name is derived from those of the two sites included in the district: one that lies along Clough Creek (a tributary of the Little Miami River), and one that occupies part of the Sand Ridge near the creek.Clover Site
The Clover Site (46CB40) is a Fort Ancient culture archeological site located near Lesage in Cabell County, West Virginia, United States. It is significant for its well-preserved remains of a late prehistoric/protohistoric Native American village. The site's unique assemblage has made it the type site for the Clover Phase of the Madisonville horizon of the Fort Ancient culture.
The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.Feurt Mounds and Village Site
The Feurt Mounds and Village Site is a Fort Ancient culture archaeological site with three burial mounds and an associated village, located in Clay Township in Scioto County, Ohio.Fort Ancient (Lebanon, Ohio)
Fort Ancient (33 WA 2) is a Native American earthworks complex located in Washington Township, Warren County, Ohio, along the eastern shore of the Little Miami River about seven miles (11 km) southeast of Lebanon on State Route 350. The site is the largest prehistoric hilltop enclosure in the United States with three and one-half miles (18,000 ft) of walls in a 100-acre (0.40 km2) complex. Built by the Hopewell culture, who lived in the area from the 200 BC to AD 400, the site is situated on a wooded bluff 270 feet (82 m) above the Little Miami. It is the namesake of a culture known as Fort Ancient who lived near the complex long after it was constructed.
Maintained as a state historical park, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark for its significance. The State of Ohio purchased the land and made it Ohio's first state park in 1891. In addition, this is part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, one of 14 sites nominated in January 2008 by the U.S. Department of the Interior for potential submission by the United States to the UNESCO World Heritage List.Hahn Field Archeological District
Hahn Field Archeological District is a registered historic district near Newtown, Ohio, listed in the National Register of Historic Places on October 29, 1974.Kanawha River
The Kanawha River ( kə-NAW-ə) is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 mi (156 km) long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The largest inland waterway in West Virginia, it has formed a significant industrial region of the state since early in the 19th century.
It is formed at the town of Gauley Bridge in northwestern Fayette County, approximately 35 mi (56 km) SE of Charleston, by the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers. It flows generally northwest, in a winding course on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau, through Fayette, Kanawha, Putnam, and Mason counties, past the cities of Charleston and St. Albans, and numerous smaller communities. It joins the Ohio at Point Pleasant.
Paleo-Indians, the earliest indigenous peoples, lived in the valley and the heights by 10,000 BC as evidenced by archaeological artifacts such as Clovis points. A succession of prehistoric cultures developed, with the Adena culture beginning the construction of numerous skilled earthwork mounds and enclosures more than 2000 years ago. Some of the villages of the Fort Ancient culture survived into the times of European contact.
The area was a place of competition among historical American Indian nations. Invading from their base in present-day New York, the Iroquois drove out or conquered Fort Ancient culture peoples, as well as such tribes as the Huron and Conoy. By right of conquest, the Iroquois, Lenape (Delaware), and Shawnee reserved the area as a hunting ground. They resisted European-American settlement during the colonial years.
The river valley contains significant deposits of coal and natural gas. In colonial times, the wildly fluctuating level of the river prevented its use for transportation. The removal of boulders and snags on the lower river in the 1840s allowed navigation, which was extended upriver after the construction of locks and dams starting in 1875. The river is now navigable to Deepwater, an unincorporated community about 20 miles (32 km) upriver from Charleston. A thriving chemical industry along its banks provides a significant part of the local economy.Leo Petroglyph
The Leo Petroglyph is a sandstone petroglyph containing 37 images of humans and other animals as well as footprints of each. The petroglyph is located near the small village of Leo, Ohio (in Jackson County, Ohio) and is thought to have been created by the Fort Ancient peoples (possibly AD 1000–1650). The area in which the sandstone petroglyph was found is on the edge of an unglaciated Mississippian sandstone cliff 20–65 feet high. To this day, the meanings of the drawings are unknown. On November 10, 1970, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The site is maintained by the Ohio History Connection.Madisonville Site
The Madisonville Site is a prehistoric archaeological site near Mariemont, Ohio, United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 16, 1974 as the "Mariemont Embankment and Village Site".
Madisonville is the type site for the Madisonville phase of Fort Ancient pottery. The 5-acre site is located on a bluff above the Little Miami River about 5 miles upstream from the Ohio River. While occupied over hundreds of years, it was settled most intensively in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and is the most excavated Fort Ancient site of this time period. Early twentieth-century excavations were carried out by staff of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1990, the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History has done additional studies, with findings increased by the use of current technology and professional practices. The village site had two or more small plazas, rather than just one central site as seen at the earlier SunWatch Indian Village.
This is believed to be the only Fort Ancient site whose people consumed bison as part of the game hunted to supplement their diet of maize. They may have hunted the animals in areas to the west of this site. Elk and deer were also valuable for their meat, and the people put to use their bones and hides for tools, musical instruments and ornaments.Researchers found a large amount of goods of non-local materials and design, indicating the villagers were connected to a large exchange network, with items identified as from the St. Lawrence River region, eastern present-day Iowa, and northern Alabama, as well as Tennessee. The size and limited range of European goods indicated they came from an indirect network at this time, rather than in direct trading. People at Madisonville made distinctive snake-shaped ornaments, which have been found at other sites as distant as Iroquois settlements in Ontario, Canada and western present-day New York.Moorehead Circle
Moorehead Circle was a triple woodhenge constructed about two millennia ago at the Fort Ancient Earthworks in the U.S. state of Ohio.
The outer circle, discovered in 2005 by Jarrod Burks, is about 60 metres (200 ft) in diameter. Robert Riordan, Professor of Archaeology at Wright State University and lead archaeologist investigating the site, estimates that about two hundred wooden posts were set in the outer circle. Following the 2009 Field Season though, this estimate will likely be reevaluated given a huge number of tightly spaced post-molds found on the geographic south of the feature.Thirty post-molds in all, were found in an eight meter long area excavated on the border of the circle. "A radiocarbon date on charcoal from a remnant trace of a post suggests it was built between 40 BC and AD 130. Burned timber fragments from the pit were dated AD 250 to AD 420." Both dates fall into the time period of the Hopewell culture, preceding the Fort Ancient culture occupation that predominates the site. The use or uses of the circles has not been determined, although it was likely ceremonial.
Dr. Riordan named the circle in honor of Warren K. Moorehead, first curator of archaeology for the Ohio Historical Society and a leading North American archaeologist around the turn of the twentieth century, who was largely responsible for preservation of the Fort Ancient site.
Other woodhenges have been found in the central part of the United States, including the Cahokia Woodhenge and Mound 72 Woodhenges (both located at the Cahokia site in western Illinois) and the Stubbs Earthworks, which is also a Hopewell culture site located in Warren County, Ohio.Mound Builders
The various cultures collectively termed "Mound Builders" were inhabitants of North America who, during a circa 5,000-year period, constructed various styles of earthen mounds for religious, ceremonial, burial, and elite residential purposes. These included the pre-Columbian cultures of the Archaic period, Woodland period (Calusa culture Adena and Hopewell cultures), and Mississippian period; dating from roughly 3500 BCE (the construction of Watson Brake) to the 16th century CE, and living in regions of the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, and the Mississippi River valley and its tributary waters.Since the 19th century, the prevailing scholarly consensus has been that the mounds were constructed by indigenous peoples of the Americas. Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers met natives living in a number of later Mississippian cities, described their cultures, and left artifacts. Research and study of these cultures and peoples has been based mostly on archaeology and anthropology.Portsmouth Earthworks
The Portsmouth Earthworks are a large prehistoric mound complex constructed by the Ohio Hopewell culture mound builder indigenous peoples of eastern North America (100 BCE to 500 CE). The site was one of the largest earthwork ceremonial centers constructed by the Hopewell and is located at the confluence of the Scioto and Ohio Rivers, in present-day Ohio.
The majority of the mound complex site is now covered by the city of Portsmouth in Scioto County, Ohio. Several individual sections of the complex have been included on the National Register of Historic Places.Prather Site
The Prather Site (12CL4) is a Middle Mississippian culture archaeological site located in the Falls of the Ohio region in Clark County, Indiana. It was the principal ceremonial center of the Prather Complex, the northeastern most regional variant of the Mississippian cultures. It also bordered on several Upper Mississippian cultures, including the Fort Ancient peoples of Southern Indiana, Southern Ohio and Northeastern Kentucky.Serpent Mound
The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot (411 m)-long, three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. Maintained within a park by Ohio History Connection, it has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of Interior. The Serpent Mound of Ohio was first reported from surveys by Ephraim Squire and Edwin Davis in their historic volume Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, published in 1848 by the newly founded Smithsonian Museum.
Researchers have at different times attributed construction of the mound to two different prehistoric indigenous cultures. Originally thought to be Adena in origin, a 1996 carbon dating study led scholars to believe the mound was built by members of the Fort Ancient culture around 1070 CE. More recent carbon dating done in 2014 places the mound's construction at around 300 BCE, once again suggesting Adena construction. Serpent Mound is the largest serpent effigy in the world.State Line Archeological District
The State Line Archeological District (also known as the State Line Site) is a complex of archaeological sites and national historic district located west of Elizabethtown, Ohio, United States. Located on both sides of the Indiana/Ohio border, the historic district is composed of five contributing properties spread out across 8 acres (3.2 ha) of land. It is believed to have been the site of a village of the Fort Ancient culture of prehistoric Native Americans.
Radiocarbon dating has revealed that State Line was occupied at approximately the same time as the SunWatch Site near Dayton, Ohio and the Turpin Site at Newtown, Ohio, while post-excavation analysis has shown that the inhabitants of the three sites were all members of the same culture. Occupation of these sites is believed to date from the Middle Fort Ancient period of the thirteenth century AD.A leading part of the district is a village site, also known as the "Henry Bechtel Village"; it includes a wide midden and a cemetery. Plowing of the fields at the village site has frequently turned up a wide range of artifacts, including burial pits, hearths, and trash pits. Ceramics found during excavation at the site have typically been tempered with shells. This pottery shares many characteristics with that produced by Middle Mississippian cultures, such as distinctive styles of painting and the presence of pottery modelled after owls and the heads of humans.Because the midden is wide but quite shallow, it has been proposed that the village's population was significant but its period of occupation was short.Among the district's contributing properties are three small burial mounds, which appear to be the work of earlier mound building peoples. At one time, the site comprised five mounds, but only three remain within the district's boundaries.In 1975, State Line was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its archaeological significance.SunWatch Indian Village
SunWatch Indian Village / Archaeological Park, previously known as the Incinerator Site, and designated by the Smithsonian trinomial 33-MY-57, is a reconstructed Fort Ancient Native American village next to the Great Miami River on West River Road in Dayton, Ohio. The dwellings and site plan of the 3-acre (1.2 ha) site are based on lengthy archeological excavations sponsored by the Dayton Society of Natural History, which owns and operates the site as an open-air museum. Because of its archaeological value, the site was listed in 1974 on the National Register of Historic Places. Since that time, as the many years of archaeological research at the site have led to important findings about the Fort Ancient culture, SunWatch Indian Village was designated in 1990 as a National Historic Landmark.Turpin Site
The Turpin Site (33Ha28) is an archaeological site in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Ohio. Located near Newtown in Hamilton County, the site includes the remains of a village of the Fort Ancient culture and of multiple burial mounds. Detailed explorations of the site have revealed the bodies of many individuals in and around the mounds. The archaeological value of the site has resulted in its use in the study of similar locations and in its designation as a historic site.Upper Mississippian culture
Upper Mississippian culture, sometimes referred to as Upper Mississippian cultures (plural), is the archaeological designation for certain late prehistoric cultures of the indigenous peoples of eastern North America, located in the present day Midwestern United States region.
the Oneota tradition or culture - in the Mississippian culture, it flourished in the area around Lake Michigan and over into Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri
the Fort Ancient culture - in parts of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio