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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Fort Ancient in Warren County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Fort Ancient Earthworks

 
 
Fort Ancient Earthworks Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
1. Fort Ancient Earthworks Marker
Inscription.
You are standing inside a hilltop earthworks built by the Hopewell Indians nearly 2000 years ago. Early settlers in this area thought these walls were constructed for defensive purposes, hence the name Fort Ancient. Today, archaeologists believe that this site was used primarily as a religious and social center. The evidence for this idea includes the 70 openings or gateways in the 3 1/2 miles of earthen walls. The presence of mounds, parallel earth walls, and stone pavements at Fort Ancient also suggests that it was not a defensive site.

The Hopewell Indians occupied the major river valleys of southern Ohio, where they constructed other hilltop enclosures, geometrically shaped earthworks, and mounds. Archaeologists debate whether the Hopewell lived year-round at their earthworks, or only visited them for special occasions. Purposes for such special visits may have included additional construction on the earthworks, trading with distant communities, and participation in religious observances.

For reasons still unclear, the Hopewell culture disappeared after A.D.500-600. Late Woodland Indians, likely the descendents of the Hopewell, continued to occupy southern Ohio. The second major group associated with this site, known as the Fort Ancient Indians, settled here around A.D.1200. These people lived in villages which
Fort Ancient Earthworks Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
2. Fort Ancient Earthworks Marker
CCC-built picnic shelter in background left.
were supported by growing corn, beans, and squash in addition to hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plant foods. One of their communities, today known as Anderson Village, was located along the Little Miami River, while another village was established within the South Fort portion of the enclosure. Fort Ancient people were able to occupy one village for 10 to 15 years before the soil was depleted.

Archaeological techniques have improved with time, and each new dig reveals new data and theories. Recent work focuses on the sequence in which the Hopewell built the three major parts of the enclosure, and the possibility that some of the walls and mounds function as astronomical calendars. More information on Fort Ancient is available in the museum and along the trails. Please help us preserve this important site by walking only on the trails, not on the earthworks.
 
Erected by The Ohio Historical Society.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
Location. 39° 23.974′ N, 84° 5.651′ W. Marker is in Fort Ancient, Ohio, in Warren County. Touch for map. Marker is about 300 feet west of the main picnic shelter on Fort Ancient State Memorial, near the park access road. Marker is
Fort Ancient Earthworks Marker Timeline image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
3. Fort Ancient Earthworks Marker Timeline
at or near this postal address: 6123 Ohio Route 350, Oregonia OH 45054, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Changes at Fort Ancient (within shouting distance of this marker); The Civilian Conservation Corps (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Myth of the Mound Builders (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fort Ancient Dwelling (approx. 0.2 miles away); Stages of Construction / Crescent Mounds (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fort Ancient Prehistoric Indian Earthworks (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hilltop Enclosure (approx. 0.2 miles away); North Overlook (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Ancient.
 
Also see . . .
1. Fort Ancient. (Submitted on January 19, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Fort Ancient Earthworks. (Submitted on January 19, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. AgricultureForts, CastlesLandmarksNative AmericansNatural FeaturesNotable PlacesSettlements & Settlers
 
Hopewell Village Depiction on Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
4. Hopewell Village Depiction on Marker
Fort Ancient Village Depiction on Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
5. Fort Ancient Village Depiction on Marker
Fort Ancient Earthworks Diagram on Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
6. Fort Ancient Earthworks Diagram on Marker
Red line shows modern day road, trail, and parking area.
Fort Ancient Earthworks Detail on Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
7. Fort Ancient Earthworks Detail on Marker
Red line shows modern day road, trail, and parking area.
National Historic Landmark Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 6, 2009
8. National Historic Landmark Marker
On CCC-built shelter in picnic area.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 19, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 996 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on January 19, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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