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Middle Woodland Period (2,000 - 1,500 BP)

The Middle Woodland Period is marked by the intensification of inter-regional trade, ritual activities, architecture, and art. This fluorescence of ritual and artistic activities is most likely tied to changes in the ideological climate of the time. Some of the most famous prehistoric art and architecture in North America were made by Middle Woodland peoples in Ohio and surrounding regions. However, the inhabitants of some areas of present-day Ohio did not appear to change their lifestyles between the early and middle Woodland periods. The people who did participate in the widespread changes during this time period in the Woodland region are called the Hopewell Culture.

Hopewell Culture

Hopewell Culture is a term used to describe the peoples that participated in the fluorescence of art and architecture in the Middle Woodland period. Although Hopewell culture extends beyond the present borders of Ohio, the center of Hopewell cultural expression lies within Ohio State lines. Like the Adena Culture, Hopewell Culture is an archeological culture that is defined by similarities in material culture and is not associated with any contemporary ethnic or culture group. The art and architecture of the Hopewell Culture indicates a complex ceremonial life unrivaled in North America at the time.

Hopewell Culture peoples are most famous for their large-scale geometric earthworks. Some of these earthworks represent thousands of hours of human labor. The exact ideological meaning and use of these earthworks is unknown. However, the large scale of Hopewell earthworks, their geometric shapes, and exact measurements indicate that they were constructed to fit a pre-conceived site plan. Researchers suggest that some of these earthworks may be oriented with features on the landscape (including other mound sites) as well as to solar and lunar alignments.

In addition to architectural achievements, the Hopewell Culture has produced some of the most elaborate pre-contact material culture in North America. Decorated pottery, effigy pipes, figurines, mica cut-outs, copper plates, and bone adornments are just a few examples of the advanced artistic skill and sophisticated use of materials by Hopewell Culture peoples. Materials such as copper were imported to the region from hundreds of miles away, indicating that the Hopewell were part of long-distance trade networks and that they traveled well beyond their homeland to access materials.

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