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Ancient Ohio Cultures

Defining Adena

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Archaeologist Martha Otto, former curator at the Ohio Historical Society, talks about how to characterize the Adena culture (800 BC to AD 100).

Gardening

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Which plants were domesticated by the Hopewell, how they were grown, and how gardening may have affected the landscape, filmed at the Fort Ancient garden.

Ceremonial Gatherings

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An overview of the ways the geometric earthworks may have been used, and how gatherings there were probably multi-purposed.

A Hopewell Settlement

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Two houses surround a yard in which objects (flint, squash, hearth, textiles, basket) introduce topics about the daily life of the earthwork builders.

Fire

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The role of fire in the builders' treatments of deposited items, burials, and the burning down of buildings before mounds and eathworks were raised.

Burning Things

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Comparative religion scholar Dr. David Cave discusses the meaning of community ritual burning of meaningful objects across cultures.

Hopewell Hilltops

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The nature and variety of Hopewell hilltop enclosures, suggesting how and why they were built.

Precious materials

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An overview of the use and trade of precious materials used in making artifacts associated with the earthworks: copper, obsidian, mica, pearls, and flint.

Water

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Aspects of water hold deep meaning in many cultures, suggesting possible intentions behind the water engineering of Adena and Hopewell sites.

Shadows and Time

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The nature and probable meanings of solar observations in the Fort Ancient culture, with Andrew Sawyer, curator at SunWatch Village, Dayton.

Earth, Soil

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Architectural historian and Project Director John Hancock explains how the earthwork builders understood “earth” itself as an architectural element.

Effigies

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Exploration of the Great Serpent Mound and other effigies now attributed to the Fort Ancient culture, compared with effigies from elsewhere in the Americas.

Textiles

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An explanation of the variety and complexity of Hopewell textiles, with a demonstration by Dr. Kathryn Jakes of how plant fibers were obtained from stems.

Music

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Ethnomusicologist Robert Templeman emphasizes that the builders’ music (panpipes, rattles, rasps, drums, and voices) differed in sound and purpose from we know today.

Music and Authenticity

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Ethnomusicologist Robert Templeman points out that most of the music in our program is “Westernized,” and inauthentic.

Sacred Landscape

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Archaeologist Dr. Mark Seeman discusses the relation between the hills and valleys of the Ohio River landscape and the formations of the earthworks and mounds.

Reincarnation

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Archaeologist Dr. James Brown explains how the earthworks may have been scenes of ritual adoption and the spiritual reincarnation of revered ancestors.

The Cosmological Plan

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Dr. James Brown suggests that the geometric earthworks were understood as the cosmos on earth, allowing potential enemies to meet within a common order.

Elaboration and Ritual

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Dr. David Cave explores the reasons for the great size and elaboration in ritual grounds and preparations, across cultures.

Naming these Cultures

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Historian Dr. Geoffrey Plank urges caution in using the common archaeological categories to define ancient groups, beliefs, or practices.

Deposits

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A discussion of the practice, and examples, of Hopewell interment of precious objects and materials in the earth.

Ten Thousand Mounds

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Hawk Pope describes the fertility and abundance of the Ohio Valley region and how communities thrived here.

Making Fire

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Mark Welsh of Dakota heritage tells a story he remembers about the origin of fire being at Ohio's Flint Ridge.

Hopewell Interaction Sphere

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Dr. Robert Hall describes the nature of the trade networks and other influences that spread Hopewell ideas far across the continent.

Circle of Life

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Shawnee Chief Frank Wilson talks about walking the medicine wheel of life with its four gateways.

World Renewal

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Archaeologist Dr. DeeAnne Wymer explains why some Hopewell deposits suggest the traditional ceremonies of world renewal, still celebrated by many Native American tribes.

Light and Shadow

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Archaeologist Dr. Gwynne Henderson of the University of Kentucky talks about the aesthetic power of light and shadow in earthwork design.

Agricultural Practices

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Archaeologist Bret Ruby explains how the land for miles around earthworks was probably marked by extensive farm fields.

Gain many rewarding insights from your visits to the ancient earthworks in OHIO!