Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
The value of protecting the works of ancients can sometimes take an act of governance. Hence the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park was established in 1992 by a law that renamed Mound City Group National Monument, expanding boundaries at Hopeton Earthworks, and included High Bank Works, Hopewell Mound Group, and Seip Earthworks. This now gives current and future generations the opportunity to wonder at these ancient works.
Backstory and Context
Hopewell Culture Historical National Park features large mounds and embankments that were built by an ancient indigenous culture that is referred to as the Hopewell culture who occupied this area during the Middle Woodland Period. The Hopewell culture is believed to have lasted from 200 BCE to 500 CE. Scholars believe that the mounds served ceremonial and religious purposes, as well as being the final resting places of the deceased.
Visitors to the area can see visible remnants of Hopewell culture at this location and throughout the Scioto River Valley. Some of the mounds were destroyed by farmers, and the builders of the temporary military post built during World War I was adjacent to this location. In 1917 the U.S. Army built a military camp on the site and leveled most of the mounds. Artifacts that were unearthed at this time were mostly taken by military personnel on the site as souvenirs. After Camp Sherman was dismantled, the largest mound that had been left intact was excavated in 1920. In 1923 the site was established as a National Monument. Based on early surveys, the mounds were re-created as they were at the time of being surveyed.
The Original "Mound City" was surveyed by Squier and Davis in the book "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley/" They note that there were twenty-four mounds within the embankment, all of which have been excavated at one time or another. There are several other earthworks in the general area and it is presumed that they were all connected at one point. Though attributed to the Hopewell culture, it should be noted that many earthworks that have been found are thought to have been used or occupied from Palaeoindian times and perhaps adopted from one culture to the next. These works follow the same pattern of being close to a water source, in this case, the Scioto River, owing to the known and extensive trade system as well as much needed resources.
Squier, E G. Davis, E H. Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. New York, NY. 1848.