: This photograph shows the construction of the north side of paved drive at Fort Ancient, ca. 1900-1908. The path consists of irregularly shaped stones inserted at varying angles into the earth. The path, which curves to the right, has a shallow earthen bank on either side.
The Fort Ancient Earthworks are a series of earthen embankments that extend for more than three and one half miles around a high bluff along the Little Miami River in southwestern Ohio. Although it is called a "fort," it probably never served as a defensive work. Ditches are located inside the walls rather than outside as might be expected in a fortification. There are more than 60 gateways in the walls, making it difficult to defend the site against enemies.
The Hopewell culture (100 B.C. to 500 A. D.) of prehistoric American Indian people constructed the earthworks. Later native residents built a village and a cemetery within the walls of the already ancient South Fort. Archaeologists mistakenly assumed that these villagers had built the earthen walls. It was called the Fort Ancient culture (1000 A.D. to 1650 A.D.) after the name of the site. This mistake has caused confusion for later students of Ohio archaeology.
Recent excavations at Fort Ancient have discovered the remains of Hopewell culture houses and ceremonial features both inside and outside of the enclosure walls. It is not known whether the houses located inside the enclosure were occupied before or after the enclosure was built. It also has yet to be determined whether the houses were the dwellings of more or less full time residents, or the temporary shelters of visitors.
The Fort Ancient Earthworks is an Ohio Historical Society site open to visitation. It is located seven miles southeast of Lebanon, in Warren County, Ohio. In addition to the earthworks, the site features a museum with interpretive exhibits about Ohio's ancient past. The Fort Ancient Earthworks site also is a National Historic Landmark.
View on Ohio Memory.
: AL05739 Subjects
: Fort Ancient (Ohio); Hopewell culture--Ohio; Earthworks (Archaeology); American Indian history and society; Other--Ohio Historical Society Places
: Warren County (Ohio)